The cost of full mouth implants in Australia

By far the most common objection to full mouth implants is the cost. Many people want and need them, but so many feel that they simply can’t afford them. I experience firsthand how upset and angry people are about dental implants being beyond their means. I’ve also treated patients who thought they couldn’t afford implants, but in reality they could, and were able to proceed with treatment.

I understand why people choose to explore options in third world countries, such as Thailand and Indonesia, in search of cheaper dental implants (I discuss the pros and cons of this approach in a blog ‘Full mouth dental implants – the uncensored guide). Dental tourism is the buzz word. The boarders are disappearing and the options are seemingly expanding. If you are anything like me, I like to consider all my options before I make any decisions. I like to weigh them up and sleep on them as to not make a rushed mistake. I often feel that due to a lack of information, people are unable to make an accurate comparison based on all the evidence available. Some even think that Australian dentist are simply greedy and heartless.

So I’ve decided to write this article to help you understand the reality, without the shiny marketing spin, regarding your options when it comes to making a decision on full mouth implants. With the hope that you’ll be well equipped to make the best decision for you!

 The cost of full mouth implants

Cheap is good. I like cheap too. I like cheap tissues, my nose doesn’t mind. When I go to the supermarket and see a discounted bruised apple, I’ll buy it. So don’t think that your money goes to buying the most expensive apples.  I can cut a bruise off that apple and then I have a good apple. But I don’t want cheap teeth to eat that apple with….

 You only get two chances in life when it comes to your teeth. The first set is the one that you were born with, these came for free. Your second set (implants) will be your last chance and they will cost you… a lot. And if you neglect theses ones, you will most likely not get a third chance, so full dentures will be the only option left.

Implants are not easily removed and if they can be, they leave such a deficit in your jaw that it might not even be possible to have another go. Even if it is possible, it will cost you many more thousands of dollars to repair the damage. No one can really predict the outcome, so I can’t stress enough – cheap surgery is at your own risk!

The average price of full arch implants in Australia is between $23,000 – $27,000 per arch.Good advice is free but you’ll be paying for cheap implants for the rest of your life. Your natural teeth are the cheapest. Look after them, if you’re interested, I can show you how. Why are dental implant so expensive in Australia?

Child surgeonUnless you want us to import an unqualified nurse from a third world country, operate from our backyard, have our staff work for peanuts and use cheap materials, then expect that this treatment will cost you. Regardless of what you hear, it takes at least 6 months to complete the procedure, with over 50 hours of work involved for the team and about $10,000 to $15,000 in componentry. Furthermore, dental implant surgery is not subsidised by Medicare like cardiac surgery. Dental insurances want to wipe their hands of it too because every business is in for a profit. You are better off saving your pennies than having this done on the cheap.

The cost of providing this service in Australia  is expensive. It’s just is. Salaries are hight, rent is astronomical, so is the cost of materials and implants in comparison to other countries. This doesn’t stop people from wanting to live in Australia. Same goes for our medical system. It’s expensive but there is no comparison as far as the standard of care is concerned.

The difference between $13,000 and $27,000 full mouth dental implants

As much as I’d like to be informative, I’m probably not going to be so helpful in answering this question. You see, many websites advertise full mouth implants “from $19,000” or even “from $13,000” and I wonder how they do it myself. Sometimes I’d like to be a fly on the wall to understand the truth. Perhaps the word “from” is the key, and when you actually choose all the necessary “add ons” that we just include in our standard price, it’s unlikely to be $19,000. Perhaps, you are simply not getting what you would for $23,000. How is it that 99% of dentists will charge an average fee and 1% with charge half of that? Perhaps it is too good to be true? What magic do they hold in their hands that others don’t?

too good to be true

Every person who is involved in the designs, construction and installation of your new teeth needs to be an expert. Experts constantly keep abreast of new research and technology. They have done the procedure many times and they know what’s involved and how much it costs to provide the service at a standard that keeps you happy, and also offers you post operative care in the event of a complication. After all their reputation is at stake. Thus, they want to be remunerated fairly for their efforts and provide the service at a fee that reflects real costs. Experienced practitioners may refuse to do the treatment at a reduced cost simply because they know how involved the procedure can be. Inexperienced practitioners can sometimes attract interest through cheaper prices. They are prepared to accept a small profit margin in return for experience. There is nothing wrong with this but please understand that the practitioner may be qualified but might lack the experienced of other, more seasoned surgeons. High success rates can be achieved with full mouth implants but success is directly correlated with the practitioners experience.

Making the first step towards having this procedure is daunting. I encourage anyone who is contemplating it to get a few opinions, consult with several dentists who are offering this service. Compare apples with apples when you are making the decision. This can be difficult sometimes, as dentists use item numbers and codes.  If you are confused, give me a call and I can help clarify what they actually mean so that you can make an educated decision as to who is the right dentist for you.

How can you afford implants?

piggy bank

– You work hard and save up like most people do

– You’ve inherited cash or you were born into money

– You can take out a payment plan that’s specifically designed for medical treatments. This is good if you need implants now and you’re prepared to pay them off over 24 months. However, be mindful of hefty interest rates incorporated into some of these plans. Sometimes up to 17%. I advise my patients to explore all options. Perhaps a bank can offer a better deal.

– You might be able to access your superannuation on compassionate grounds. Your GP or your dentist can help you through this process. You can read up on this on the ATO website https://bit.ly/3ahM5O3

We understand that it’s not cheap for you, so we try to find a way to make it as cost effective and affordable.

How much will dental insurance pay?

australian coinsDon’t expect much. Dental insurances will pay a little for your check ups, fillings, crowns etc. But when it comes for dental implants you might get $1,000 – $2,000 back. Seems unfair after all the money you have paid them over the years. I agree. But if insurances paid for the 15 – 20 million implants being done all over the world annually, they wouldn’t be in business. So you get my point? It’s cheaper to save on the premiums and pay for implants out of pocket. It’ll work out better for you in the long run

Does Medicare pay anything on dental implants?

No. Nil. Zero. Zilch. However, you will get a Medicare rebate on your general anaesthesia service if you opt for it.

Cost of General anaesthesia

With full mouth implants, being an involved surgery, I advise to do it under general anaesthetic. It’s not painful but you will be more comfortable asleep for hours while implants are being placed. Believe me, you will have enough to deal with when you wake up. The cost of general anaesthetic will set you back approximately $2,500 – $3,000 out of pocket but it’s worth every penny.

Dental implants for pensioners

I must admit, is a tough one. The world is not fair, often people who need implants  the most, find that they are out of reach. I wish I had words of comfort and an optimistic outlook, but in reality without any subsidies, full mouth implants are expensive no matter how we look at it. However, I’ve had this discussion with my patients many times, and it goes something along these lines:

Patient: “I can’t wear my dentures any more. They move, rub and hurt my gums. I just can’t eat. I want permanent implants but I can’t afford them on a pension.”

Me: “Tell me, what bothers you the most?”

Patient: “The bottom denture. I’ve even stopped wearing it. The top one is OK”

Me: “What if we were to fix your bottom denture and leave the top one alone, do you think this would help?”

Patient: “Absolutely!”

So from time to time, we stabilise the bottom denture with two or even one implant instead of 4 or 6. Even one implant can mean that the denture doesn’t wobble around as much. Sometimes we can even re-fit existing dentures if they’re in good condition or make a new one. This can cost anywhere between  $5,000 – $14,000. The difference between this and a standard full denture is huge and this option doesn’t cost $25,000.

One occasions, a family member comes forward and offers to take out a payment plan in their name so that you are able to pay back in small increments.Another consideration is to have it done under local anaesthetic. It’s not painful, it’s just that you will be awake while we are doing it. You wouldn’t be the first one to do it this way. This would save you a few thousand dollars on the total cost.

 There are plenty of creative, cost- effective solutions that you can come up with. This reminds me of how I bought my first computer at the age of 14 working at KFC after school for $3.95 per hour. It took me over a year to save up but I got there and this original computer lasted me well into my early career days, until I could afford a new computer.

 Conclusion

 I provide you with the most descriptive adjectives in the world, and tell you that our clinic is the best. Blah.. blah…blah. But in reality some other clinic most likely has nicer chairs in the reception. If you’re unsure where to start, I can help inform you so you’re well equipped to make the best decision for yourself. Because I’ve done hundreds of these treatments, I’m able to give you advice – for free, but I can’t do your surgery for free.

 I’ve placed many implants and have seen hundreds of people’s lives transformed with full mouth implants. I’ve seen patients laugh and cry and I have laughed and cried with them. I’ve seen successes and I’ve seen failures. But when I ask my patients if they would do it again, not a single one says “no”. Not a single one has regrets about the many visits to see us, the bruises, the swelling, the concerns, or even robbing the bank to have it done (kidding)! Not a single one! That’s how much of a miracle full mouth implants are.

Of course we want you to come and meet us to discuss how we can help you and you can help us. Because we’ve set up a mini hospital especially for this purpose, here in Prahran, Melbourne. We’ve dedicated our careers to learning and refining our skills so that we can be the best people to walk this journey with you. Because with every triumph, our hearts sing and we take pride in every smile we create.

 Lastly, I’d like to share with you some before and afters of people who I will never forget. You might look at them and see an instantaneous transformation, and even imagine yourself in their shoes. But when I look at them, I am reminded of why I wake each morning to face another challenging day. I am reminded of every trial and tribulation…. Of every triumph that led to where these people are today. Every time I see them come back for their 6 monthly check ups beaming at me, I am grateful that they have put their trust in me, and we have achieved little miracles together.

Elvira, before and after

 Patient: Elvira 

Condition: Elvira experienced years of problems with her teeth, with large fillings to repair her many fragile teeth. Over the years Elvira had tried to maintain and repair her teeth, however after loosing several teeth Elvira was unable to eat properly and decided on upper and lower all-on-4 implants.

Procedure: Upper and Lower All – on – 4 dental implants with upgraded titanium reinforcement bars and hybrid bridges (mixed acrylic & zirconia)

Cost: ~$42,000

Result: Elvira constantly reminds us that despite the process, her decision to have All-on-4 implants was the best decision for her. 

Patient: Barry

Condition: Barry wore dentures for a number of years, with multiple teeth missing and out of place. Barry found it increasingly difficult to eat, until gathering the courage to do something about it.

Procedure: Upper all-on-6 with a fixed/removable bridge. Lower all-on-4 fixed. Both bridges are acrylic upgraded with titanium bars.

Cost: ~$52,000

Patient: Brad

Condition: Brad spent his whole life caring for others, but in doing so, neglected his own teeth. An opportunity arose whereby Brad could focus on his oral health and he wanted to replace his decayed and broken teeth.

Procedure: upper all-on-5 and lower all-on-4. Both fixed acrylic, upgraded with titanium Nobel bars.

Cost: ~$45,000

Result: Brad’s adamant that his new smile has given him a new outlook on life.

 Patient:Goran

Condition: Goran’s teeth were decayed, broken and ground down to the gum-line. He’d lost all faith in his teeth & didn’t want to entertain the idea of restoring them. Goran had spent a considerable amount of time researching his options and after much consideration he decided that all-on-6 was his best option.

Procedure: upper and lower all-on-6 with both upper and lower zirconia bridge upgrades.

Cost: ~$66,400

Result: Just ask Goran, he is thrilled with his new teeth and brilliant smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr Helen Voronina

Dr Helen Voronina is the principal dentist at "Dr Helen's Dental & Implant Studio". Having graduated from the University of Melbourne and later from the Brener Implant Institute, in her practice she places emphases on the implant, aesthetic and reconstructive dentistry. She is a member of the Australian Dental Association, The International Congress of Implantology and The Australian Society of Implant Dentistry (ASID). She is a former chairperson for the National Dental Foundation and an official dentist for the Melbourne Hearts Football Club.