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The Original Medicare Law from 1965 doesn't cover most dental care or services considered “routine,” including dental implants. However, there may be cases where Medicare will cover part of the dental costs related to an inpatient hospital stay.
If you’re looking to get dental implants covered by insurance, you will need to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan or buy separate dental insurance.
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What are dental implants?
A dental implant is a dental device that acts as a replacement for the root of a tooth. Typically, this is a post made out of titanium. Along with the post, there’s a replacement tooth designed to match your natural teeth and a connector (known as an abutment) that connects the two parts.
Dental implants are an option for people who were born without a tooth or who have lost teeth for other reasons. They’re meant to fit and function like natural teeth, and they're a more permanent option than dentures or dental bridges.
How much do dental implants cost?
The cost of each dental implant can vary, depending on the person.
"There are so many different issues that go into placing the implant, such as bone and tissue, it is challenging to give one across-the-board price," says Marilyn Mages, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.
Estimates for the total cost of a single implant — which includes the implant, the abutment and the crown, or replacement tooth — could range from $3,320 to $6,434, according to the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute’s most recent Survey of Dental Fees. If you require multiple implants, of course, the total cost will be much higher.
Medicare and dental coverage
The Medicare law doesn't allow for coverage of dental care or services needed for the health of your teeth, including cleanings, fillings, dentures and tooth extractions. This also includes dental implants.
The law does carve out an allowance for payment of services that are part of another covered procedure, such as the reconstruction of your jaw after an injury. It will also sometimes cover oral exams and dental treatment required for a kidney transplant or heart valve replacement. A required oral exam would be covered under Medicare Part A if a hospital dentist performs it and under Medicare Part B if a doctor performs it. (Medicare law does define a “dentist” as a “doctor.”)
If you think dental implants are in your future, you may want to investigate joining a Medicare Advantage plan, most of which (97%) offer dental benefits, according to the KFF, a health policy nonprofit. You may have to pay a higher premium for coverage that goes beyond routine dental care. And, typically, you're still on the hook for about 50% of the cost of the implant process.
If you’re sticking with Original Medicare, consider a stand-alone dental plan that specifically offers coverage for dental implants. This likely won't pay for all costs — there may be coinsurance and a maximum annual benefit amount — but it may cover enough to be worth it.