Temple Terrace, FL
Medicare Covered Dental Implants
Medicare covered dental implants are prosthetic restorations for a lost adult tooth. For several decades, bridges and dentures were the only options available for replacing missing teeth. With the introduction of dental implants, patients now have access to a restoration that feels, looks and functions like natural, healthy teeth. This restoration preserves the aesthetics of the mouth and the overall structure, preventing other teeth from shifting out of place awkwardly.
Medicare Covered Dental Implants
The dental implant is a titanium post covered by a dental crown. Titanium is chosen because it is biocompatible and can fuse with the jawbone in a process called osseointegration. The implant is inserted surgically into the gumline to replace the root of the lost tooth and serve as the foundation of the artificial tooth. Dental implant surgery can take different forms, depending on the type of implant being installed and the condition of the jawbone.
Unfortunately, the cost of dental implants can run into thousands of dollars without an insurance plan. Depending on the patient’s condition, dental implants can cost between $1,000 to $25,000. With aging comes a series of dental issues, ranging from cavities, gum diseases and dry mouth to oral cancer. Tooth decay and loss can have remarkable adverse effects on an adult’s oral health, self-confidence and social life. Many patients who can benefit from dental implants are worried about the cost, but they may be able to get help with financing the procedure.
Who Needs Dental Implants?
The dentist may recommend dental implants for many reasons: The patient is missing one or more teeth; the jawbone is healthy enough to sustain the implant; the patient cannot wear dentures; or it is a case of speech impediment, where one or more dental implants may help solve the issue.
As with any medical treatment, dental implant surgery has its risks. Although the success rate is high, there have been rare cases of complications, such as infection and damage to the nerves and surrounding teeth, lips or gums. The oral surgeon will discuss the risks and address the patient’s concerns before the procedure.
Dental Implant Surgery Procedure
Due to the nature of the surgery, the oral surgeon will perform a thorough medical evaluation, including taking teeth impressions and X-rays to make sure the patient is in good condition for the dental implants. The dentist will ask about any preexisting conditions and current medications, both prescriptions and over-the-counter. They may prescribe antibiotics for patients with orthopedic implants or heart conditions before the procedure in order to prevent infection.
Patients will also learn about the surgical anesthesia options and what they should do (or not do) in the hours leading up the surgery. Patients will need to arrange for transportation to and from the dental office since they will be in no condition to drive or perform any strenuous activity.
Dental implant surgery is usually performed in different stages to allow the jawbone to heal around the implant. First, if the damaged tooth is still in its socket, the dentist will extract it. If the oral surgeon recommends a bone graft procedure due to lack of adequate bone mass, this will be done first. The jaw will need time to heal afterward.
The jawbone could take about three to six months to heal and be ready for the final stage of the implantation. If the jawbone is not strong enough, the implant will inevitably fail, hence why patience is vital during treatment. Once the bone heals, the implant will be inserted into the jawbone. During the osseointegration process, the dentist will provide a temporary restoration to preserve the tooth’s appearance.
Placing the Abutment
After healing and osseointegration, the dentist will attach the abutment. This piece connects to dental implants and holds the artificial restoration. The procedure is minor and usually done under local anesthesia. The surgeon can choose to install it immediately after placing the implant or to schedule a second procedure for placement.
Placing the abutment requires reopening the gums to expose the implants. The gum tissues will be stitched around the abutment and given one or two weeks to heal.
Choosing the New Dental Restoration
After the gums have healed sufficiently, the dentist will take new impressions of the mouth and existing teeth to create the new prosthetic tooth or crown for the implant. Patients can choose between removable and fixed implant restorations.
Removable restorations are excellent because they can be removed for cleaning and replacement, especially when multiple teeth are lost and need more than one dental implant. Fixed implant restorations are screwed permanently onto the abutment and cemented.
Medicare Insurance for Dental Implants
Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) does not cover regular dental procedures, including routine oral exams, cleanings, extractions, fillings or implants. Dental coverage is overall minimal. Original Medicare may cover a dental procedure if it is an essential part of a Medicare-covered treatment. For instance, Medicare may cover a dental exam done before a kidney transplant or heart valve replacement surgery to ensure that the patient has no oral disease that can affect the outcome of the procedure.
Multiple studies have been published to prove the connection between oral diseases and those affecting overall well-being. Instances include the contribution of oral infection to heart diseases such as thrombosis (blood clots), which can cause stroke, heart attack, and vascular and valvular infection. It could also predispose patients to lung infection and severe pneumonia. Another study by the cancer society suggests that gum disease and chronic mouth infections could contribute to colon cancer.
Patients suffering from any of these conditions and major dental issues may be eligible for medical necessity and get a percentage of major dental procedures covered.
To get Medicare covered dental implants, patients have to consider Medicare Advantage coverage. Otherwise known as Medicare Part C, the program presents patients an alternative way to obtain the benefits of Medicare Part A and Part B. These plans are only provided by dentists accredited by Medicare to treat Medicare patients.
The benefits provided by the Medicare plan will significantly reduce the amount the patient has to pay out of their pocket. Although Medicare will not cover all the expenses of the treatment, it is common to get up to 20-40% of the costs paid for, especially if the patient has an excellent supplemental policy. In many cases, this means around $6,000 to $8,000 per dental arch for the surgery and implantation.
For more information about getting Medicare covered dental implants, book an appointment for a consultation.