Why are dentists so expensive? For example, a basic single dental implant averages around 26K , which includes the dental implant surgery and the final crown (tooth) .

This article aims to breakdown the costs and demystify the complexities associated with dental implants. We have even included links to some of our tools and equipment. A dental implant is not a ‘one-size-fits all’ scenario.  Each individual will present with varying clinical presentations.

The first phase is diagnosing the problem and your overall state of oral health; The Diagnostic Phase.

Cost 1: The Diagnostic Phase

It is considered unethical for a dental professional to place an implant without first making sure you are healthy.  The consultation fee at Matrix Dental specialists is all inclusive at R1987 . Great value considering it involves 2 dental specialists and a complete treatment plan!

We can’t place a dental implant unless any disease activity such as gum disease, dental decay, and dental abscess are detected and treated beforehand. Chances are, if you require a dental implant due to missing/decaying teeth or gum disease, it is likely that other teeth may present with problems.

Treating these conditions aims to create an environment that will favor healing and regeneration. If conditions (like periodontitis) remain untreated,  you could risk the bacteria infecting the future implant and losing more teeth. Thus needing more implants.

Here at Matrix Dental, you have a team of specialists to collaborate on your case even after you have left the dental office. The implant team includes the restorative dentist/prosthodontist, the implant surgeon/Periodontist and the laboratory technician.

This is where costs tend to vary. Remember that a dental specialist has an average of 4 additional years and a Master’s degree above the basic degree in dentistry that is focused on either the surgical or restorative aspects of dentistry. As Specialists, we look at planning for the next 15 to 20 years ahead, minimizing the need for future complex procedures and giving you the more cost effective treatment.

So be wary of the dentist looking to make a ‘quick buck’ by giving you a new tooth, which later down the line needs to get removed, due to poor planning like an untreated infection or decay with other teeth. It is unethical for doctors not to disclose these details to you but will often omit it rather than the possibility of ‘scaring you away’ due to higher treatment costs.

So, if you care about the lifespan of your existing teeth and to prevent or delay future dental complications, it is always advised you visit someone who can be honest with you and give the full picture of your current and future oral health.

Let’s talk about equipment. This diagnostic stage often requires models, radiographs and photographs so that your dental team is able to design and plan your future teeth before any implant is placed.

A 3D X-ray, known as Cone Beam Computer Tomography (CBCT  average cost of $86000 USD) is essential for all implant surgeons to determine the amount of bone available, locate anatomic limitations and plan the ideal position of the implants in relation to the future teeth. The average cost of a single CBCT scan is R1470. Plus an intra-oral scanning device (average cost of $30000 USD) to directly create a 3D digital scan of your mouth. Which will also later be used to create your new tooth/teeth. We offer this service at no cost

Also keep in mind that, even if you have 3 teeth missing, you may only need 2 implants to close the gap/space and if you have all 16 upper teeth missing, you may only need between 4 and 8 implants to support a full upper or lower jaw prosthesis.

Furthermore, as you may not want to walk around with gaps in your smile, your team would further incorporate the inclusion of temporary teeth to keep you smiling as you progress through your implant journey.(More on that below)

Cost 2: The Treatment Plan

Consider the time spent. Here at Matrix Dental Specialists, we will go through our curated treatment plan with you (this is a collaborative process after all) and we want you to fully understand every aspect and the reasons behind our decisions. The goal is always to have you leave feeling empowered, with more education around oral health and the journey that lay ahead.

An important consideration for the patients during these discussions is to decide if surgical procedures should be completed under general anesthesia within a hospital setting versus having the surgery performed within the dental office.

We also offer an additional service called ‘conscious sedation’; you can enjoy your procedure without feeling anxious, discomfort and the stronger side effects of general anesthesia. These decisions are often made after considering the nature and extent of the surgical procedure,your health and state of anxiety as well as your medical insurance coverage.

Cost 3 : Pre-operative planning, design templates and surgical guides.

Yay! So you are happy with the treatment plan and have decided to go ahead.

We go the extra mile to create ‘custom guides’ for you based on your exact anatomy that perfectly fits over the surgical site area during the implant procedure. This design template is based on the design of your final prosthesis (teeth/tooth). We plan with the end in mind!

If implants are placed without guides. This could lead to you requiring a removal and replacement of the dental implant. Therefore, it is important to ask your dentist if they plan to use surgical guides or not.

These surgical guides allow the periodontist to place the implant in the ideal position, making the procedure minimally invasive, more precise, SAFE and efficient. Meaning less recovery time for you.

It is important to note that this stage involves collaboration between your clinical team (dentists) and the dental labs who design and manufacture these surgical guides, as well as your new teeth/prosthesis . This collaboration often goes unnoticed as it is done behind the scenes.

Although some dental offices have incorporated in-office 3D printing or milling units to manufacture the items mentioned above, the quality of the product is usually inferior to the products produced by the professional laboratory.

Cost 4: The Surgical Procedure.

Periodontists are highly trained implant surgeons .They apply minimally invasive surgical techniques to reduce overall tissue trauma, create a natural looking appearance, reconstruct bone and gum tissue to help you heal and create a solid foundation that will support and sustain your smile; be it on natural teeth or implants.

Examples include:

  1. Implant brand, design , type and materials of the highest international standards from renowned brands such as: Straumann , Neodent, Southern Implants, Dentsply Sirona, Megagen.

  2. Biomaterials: Bone replacement graft materials, Tissue scaffolds and membranes, Biologic agents

  3. Blood products. The use of platelet rich fibrin and the associated growth factors and stem cells may be required for your case. This would involve drawing blood from the patient and placing it into a specialized centrifuge to produce the biologic product in the form of a membrane or gel. These are used to enhance local healing within the surgery site

Ethical dental professionals will explain exactly what implant brand and materials will be used and the warranties that are available. So, if your implant seems cheap, think about what is being placed into your body to ensure it is sufficiently licensed and certified by the US FDA and the EU.

Cost 5: Temporary tooth

We also design a temporary tooth, which may be a part of your plan and placed immediately after surgery. This allows you to smile and protect the implant, while the bone heals and fuses to the implant over the next 3 months. This puts a lot of our patient’s minds at ease, especially for extracted anterior teeth (teeth situated towards the front) where aesthetics are important because they are easily seen. Molars or teeth not in the ‘aesthetic region’,  often do not require a temporary crown.

The temporary crown not only is critical for you as a patient for aesthetics but it allows us to test function, occlusion (your bite) and also most importantly, train the soft tissue and gum to heal and take shape to mimic a natural tooth. These are termed immediate load temporary teeth and preserve the natural appearance of your smile

Cost 6: Manufacturing and Fitting of your Final Tooth

Finally, once you are healed after 3 months, there will be a visit to the dental practice to verify that the implant has integrated and commence with impressions to proceed with the manufacturing of the final and permanent porcelain/zirconia crown.

Let’s consider the equipment and materials needed to manufacture a high quality dental restoration.

This final crown (tooth/teeth) are made with a Cad/Cam E2 scanner from Ivoclar and high end PC to design your tooth digitally. Ivoclar’s programildry ‘carves’/mills your tooth out of high end zirconia, which is finally placed in the sintering furnace (ivoclar programat S1 1600) . (https://www.ivoclar.com/en_nz/shop/p/ivoclardigital/3shapee2redscanonly/p/746441) (https://www.ivoclar.com/en_li/products/digital-equipment/programill-dry)

The zirconia we use is Ivoclar prime. It has unique multilayered properties, using gradient technology that gives a highly esthetic and natural looking end product. As well as being very strong and durable. We want your dental implant(s) to look as natural as your own teeth. (https://www.ivoclar.com/en_li/products/digital-processes/ips-e.max-zircad-prime-family)

A Prosthodontist has special training so that the crown can be shaped in the chair when you visit, to ensure it fits perfectly. As well as a visit from the dental technician to confirm the shade matches the rest of your natural teeth, giving a seamless blend.

As you can see, every step of a dental implant treatment is customized and as unique as you are. So, the next time you ask yourself ‘why are dentists so expensive’ , hopefully this blog post springs to mind. It’s not that ‘all dentists are expensive’ , but that those who care about your health and the finest details of your treatment usually are slightly more costly.

Some ‘honorable mentions’ that we didn’t get to fit but definitely are worth mentioning:
– Our Qualified Dental Nurses, Receptionists and Cleaning Crew who work tirelessly with us to ensure you have a pleasant and safe experience.
– Technology from air purification,  water purification and world class sterilization processes are all unseen components of your dental care.

– The Dental Facilities: High-tech dental chairs from Planmeca for optimal patient comfort.
– Dental Loupes and dental microscope which allow us to get a closer and more precise view

– Our various imported dental tools from Germany, Switzerland and Brazil.
– The Cleanliness of our facilities and protocols we have in place to disinfect instruments using our Class B Autoclave for full surgical sterilization and individual instrument wrapping.

Please note these costs may vary between dental/clinical practices and based upon a number of non clinical factors associated with your geographic location.
Examples would include:

  1. Local implant market: Are implants locally manufactured or imported?

  2. Implant brands available within your market

  3. Dental insurance coverage

Baseline Fee structures vary between countries as the cost to function as a dental professional will differ.

At the end of the day, we believe information is power and think it’s important to equip patients with the information necessary to feel empowered to make a choice that is right for them.

Interested in booking an appointment with us?
Call us on: 021 110 5764
Or whatsapp us: 066 255 88 10