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FAQ - Cost & Time

How long will I keep my dental implants?

How long does the whole dental implant process take from Go to Wow?

I've heard that dental implants are expensive. How much do they cost?

Does medical insurance pay for dental implants?

I would have implants if I could have it all done on one day. Is that possible?


How long will I keep my dental implants?

Good news. Probably for the rest of your lifetime! One condition – that you treat them as you would treat your natural teeth – cleaning, check-ups and sensible loading. Teeth should last a lifetime but often don’t because of owner neglect and abuse.

Now that life expectancy has doubled since Roman times, teeth are subjected to stresses for twice their previous time span. Crowns protect damaged teeth from these fatigue forces. At 15 years, some implant internal screws may need retightening, but, with sensible loading, the bone-implant interface should be stable and trouble-free. Remember that it’s one way of taking your money with you and they have very good restaurants in heaven!

Biological guarantees can never be given for any procedure, for example on hips, bone or heart tissue. The healing is down to you! It is really down to your lifestyle, genetics and perhaps unknown dietary factors, amino acids, trace elements, too many or not enough of these building blocks about which we just don’t know… yet. Certainly your lifestyle and the competence of the practitioner providing your implants and even the brand of implant may tilt the balance in your favour.

How long does the whole dental implant process take from Go to Wow?

faq7.jpg (10614 bytes) After the first consultation, X-rays and models of your mouth would usually be essential. Then over another one or two appointments the number and location of the implants can be decided. An estimate of costs is given and if acceptable, a session booked for a local anaesthetic in the dental chair or general anaesthetic in hospital.

My preference is hospital because my focus can be just solely upon the task, whereas, for the conscious patient, their wellbeing can be a distraction - loo breaks, fidgeting, itchiness, questions and explanations breaking my concentration and the sterility of the treatment zone. Also we have 3 other helping hands: 2 registered nurses and the anaesthetist.

I prefer to review healing over the first weeks a couple of times, just short pop-ins and then we just leave the bone to grow about the implant for 6 months. A short prayer "Grow little bone, grow!" can often help. This is the time-honoured protocol.

Radiographs taken at 6 months indicate the likely bone healing; hopefully the bone will have beaten the gum for, it is a little akin to the race between the tortoise and the hare: the bone grows slowly so, if the fast growing gum beats it, the implant is surrounded by soft tissue, exhibits a bit of a wobble and we would then deem that to be ‘a failure’. Sometimes we place a barrier membrane of Goretex or a celluloid like material to hold back the faster growing soft gum tissue allowing the slower bone to in-fill first.

At the 6-month stage, the flat top on the implant is removed and replaced with a dome that comes through the gum.

Then 4 weeks later, the dome is removed and a hex placed, the position recorded with a blamonge paste and 2 weeks later, the dentistry placed.

So timing is about 6 months, 4 weeks, 2 weeks unless you opt for the ‘immediate placement’ approach which can be completed in a few days yet the % chance of success can be more risky.

Those times can be stretched out for travel or financial reasons. Implants stored under the bone are better than money in the bank: they preserve the bone and they don’t incur any costs.

I've heard that dental implants are expensive. How much do they cost?

Well, first you must determine the measure or the gauge or yardstick by which you would evaluate VALUE. An implant costs, in Australian dollars between $3,500 to $4,500 - which is a small amount to pay for a Jumbo Jet or cheap to pay for a Bionic Ear. Compared to what is an implant cheap or expensive? A holiday for the same price is gone after 2 weeks, the memories faded after a year and 5 years later, you might actually ‘lose by forgetting’ some of those tranquil expensive days.

Dentistry is HIGH VALUE. It is with you walking, talking, eating, singing, and making love, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week probably for the rest of your life. The same money spent doing up the car or the front fence is far less VALUE given that your interaction with it is less frequent and that a moment of absent-mindedness could reduce it to rubble.

The other distinction to consider is ‘cost’ and ‘price’. Price is a one-time event, cost is a reoccurring sequence. The cost of cardboard shoes is higher than a pair of leather shoes…. that is why most folk choose NOT to walk around in cardboard shoes, which would have a lower price than leather yet would actually cost more over time.

The nearest comparison between implants would be bridges, which might have a price 15% lower yet require replacement throughout a lifetime with an escalation in complexity each time they fail due to either decay, structural fatigue or root canal problems. More costs, dearer. Lower value.

Implants don’t decay, don’t corrode, don’t get toothache, don’t suffer from actual gum disease and therefore in the long run cost less than the alternative ‘3-tooth bridge’.

In circumstances where tooth loss has been on a grander scale, fees can be $5,000 and up for replacement of multiple missing teeth. However, the cost of non-treatment can be considerably more expensive, not to mention the emotional burden of knowing that your body is slowly packing up!

faq10.jpg (15826 bytes) "Oh I’ll stick with my dentures" you might be thinking, "I cannot afford implants". Well, lets examine that little cop out:

Full dentures rest upon and irritate the bone continuously causing that poor bone to dissolve.

The jaw hinge and muscles change as the chin and nose approach each other as the denture settles and squashes the bone whilst the denture teeth also wear down. Some poor folk will end up with a lower jaw as thick as a HB pencil and the upper jaw, instead of it looking like Chesty Bond; it will resemble a pancake. No happy haven for implants even when great aunt leaves you her fortune. Opportunity lost.

When I am Minister for Health, everybody with full dentures will be required to have 2 implants in each jaw. Compulsory!

So the question should be more "How can I afford implants" rather than the easy option of a conditioned coward’s cop out of "I cannot". Most practitioners can stage a treatment plan and payment plan to suit given that there is no hurry to connect the bone-banked fixtures once they are in place and providing the bone shrinkage protection.

"Bankers save money, dentists save teeth" is an old adage, but there is no better reason to borrow money than to help you eat and enjoy your food.


Does medical insurance pay for dental implants?

Our local HBF rebates implants for long term members at a rate of 60-100% for the placement procedure and the second stage (flat top to dome) to a maximum payment of $1800 or $2600 for the top levels per calendar year. Lower levels of cover provide lower annual allocation but the same percentage rate. Medibank Private rebates $200 which is hardly competitive, nor is it any solos to its loyal members, any of whom could split a tooth on the roast crackling and require an implant! Competition indeed!

Additionally, a tax rebate of 20% can be claimed for costs over $1250 incurred for you or your dependants spent on medical, pharmacy, optical etc. So, if you spent $11,000 you would receive about $2,000 as a tax rebate. Therefore, it is best to spread your treatment payments over one financial year, but your treatment stages over 2 HBF years, January to December. So implants in before December, final payment before the 30th June the following year.

Our staff will provide you with as much assistance as possible regarding item codes and timing so that you maximise the rebates to which you are entitled.

A small caution. Sometimes people ask if we can fudge the dates, alter the account, so to defraud the insurer to put it more accurately. Yes! We can do that for you, but there will be only one condition. You must agree to visit me each and every weekend when I am incarcerated in the penitentiary for defrauding your insurance company on your behalf.

With just 2 implants positioned on the ridge near the left and right corner of the lip, you can find happiness in gaining retention of the existing denture and rediscover pain free chomping as the main pressure is taken by the implants into the bone, hence sparing that delicate thin gum from the squeezing "ouch" forces. No movement, no pain, no deterioration. Imagine!

Should you want a more tooth like result rather than a denture modification, more implants can be placed, either 6 or 8 in either jaw, so eliminating the pink plastic sides and allowing teeth replicas to emerge from the gum, just as your own teeth would have been positioned and styled.

Denture adhesive use is a sign that either a denture is due for reline or that the terminal damage to the bone shape is in the final chapter. Adhesives = Implant Action.

Signs of the terminal stage of bone destruction by a denture are:

  • selective diet of soft food (schnitzel and never steak)
  • denture adhesive powders and goos
  • the nose to chin vertical distance closing
  • thinning of the lips
  • lipstick taken over the upper lip border to hide thinning lip
  • creases at the corner of the lips - often red fungal lines or white cellular debris
  • lisping, clicking, dropping, lifting dentures
  • frequent moving ulcers: one fixed, another appears
  • fracturing of the front denture teeth
  • a changed sliding bite to the side or forwards
  • premature aging of the lower 1/3 of face
  • ‘weak’ hidden tooth smile

Why would anybody elect to have dentures? If you have even one of these problems, then implants will help you avoid the other vexing problems, which are just queued up waiting to happen.

Most decisions to ‘clear the forest’ are made mistakenly in the belief that "If I have all my teeth out, then I won’t have to come here again!" Alas, those very people are the ones who, in the future, are the dental waiting room wall flowers, plagued by unresolvable difficulties, terrorizing every dentist in the district with their bag of failed dentures and these are the very folk who are emotionally scarred from the disappointment of searching for, what is, in reality, a fluke of fit.


I would have implants if I could have it all done on one day. Is that possible?

Yes. Same Day Teeth are here!

The concept is simple: 8 am teeth or dentures out, 3 implants placed at the front of the lower jaw, some wee sutures, a titanium U shaped piece attached to the 3 implants, a bite registration of the height and front to back position of the jaws is taken, then as early as 3 PM the final "denture" is screwed into position on top of the titanium U piece. Cost is between $8000 to $10,000.

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