How Much does a Dental Bridge Cost?
In Australia: The cost of a traditional 3 unit bridge is likely to be in the range $3000- $5000
Broken down this is:
The cost of two crowns $900-$1800 each
Plus the cost of the pontic or fake tooth = $800-1200
Yes! Dental bridges are expensive whichever way you look at it. Have you carefully considered the advantages and disadvantage of all the options for replacing missing teeth and is having a bridge the right choice for you? It is important you understand these and also the potential negative consequences of choosing to leave the space as it is- without a tooth!
During the initial consultation or examination to evaluate your case, the dentist will discuss the costs of each suitable treatment option with you,. They should provide you with a treatment plan to go away with and think about, since it can be hard to remember all the specific information given to you at your appointment. You may want to book in then and there to get the ball moving, or you may want to consider your decision- either is fine. If you still have any questions or doubts… make sure you address them!
What Determines the Cost of Dental Bridges?
The following factors will influence the price the dentist charges for the dental bridge:
- Size of the bridge (number of units)
This is one of the biggest determining factors. Bridges are measured in units, which essentially means the number of teeth that are involved in the procedure, ‘not’ the number of missing ones replaced . The most common is the three-unit bridge; two crowns holding a fake tooth to replace the ‘real’ one that is missing. If two teeth were missing, the bridge would need an extra fake tooth, making it a four-unit bridge… make sense? Pontics don’t cost as much as crowns because there is less worked involved in making them.
- Does it involve an implant?
If there is not enough support from your natural teeth, then implants may be needed- as soon as implants get involved- expect the cost to go up considerably.
Since there are no set fees to say what a dentist should charge, only guidelines, fees can vary quite a lot from practice to practice as the average price range above suggests. Ask yourself- is the dentist a general dentist, a cosmetic dentist or a prosthodontist ?
The level of training, expertise and experience may affect how much the dentist decides to charge. Though all dentists are trained to make bridges, this doesn’t make them all equal. For example, a prosthodontist is a registered specialist, trained in advanced dentistry and restorative procedures; the prices they charge are likely to reflect this.
- Technician/ Ceramicist
The artistic and technical skill of the person making the dental bridge is crucial to getting a good fit and a natural looking result. The more experience and training they have, the higher you would expect the lab charges for the dentist to be, and thus the more you will end up paying. Different dental laboratories have different price lists for the work they produce- some do work in Australia, others outsource to overseas- some do both- it just depends.
The cost of a dental bridge will vary not only between countries, but also between states and between major cities and smaller towns and rural areas where access is more limited and there is less competition.
Which health fund you are with and the type and level of insurance will determine how much you get back and how much you yourself actually end up having to contribute to the dental bridge.
- Type of bridge
In addition to the number of units, the type of bridge will also affect the cost. A bonded-bridge involves significantly less tooth preparation (and time) than a conventional bridge. The lab charges will also be lower and so this will be reflected in the overall price. Unfortunately it can only be used in certain situations and these are quite limited.
If special precision attachments are incorporated into the bridge to relieve stresses or solve a problem of tilted teeth, expect there to be additional costs. If the dentist is thinking of using this in the design for whatever reason, they should inform you and factor it into the price.
Whether the bridge is made in all-porcelain or strengthened by a metal sub structure [which is most commonly the case] and the type of porcelain used, will have some impact on the amount the dentist must pay to the lab technician. Since you will pay more for an all-porcelain crown compared to a porcelain fused to metal crown, it is likely you will pay more for an all-porcelain bridge as this is the most cosmetic option.
- Other costs
As with the cost of a dental crown, there are other treatments that may be required before preparing the teeth for the bridge. This may include replacing the fillings (cores) of the abutment teeth, having root canal treatment, and possibly a post and core.
After examining your teeth, your dentist can advise you if these will be needed and the cost of having them done. They will be included on your treatment plan.
Initially you are likely to be charged for the following as part of the pre- bridge assessment.
ITEM 013 or 014- A limited examination or consultation
ITEM 022 or 037- X-rays to check underneath the teeth
Study models and photos may also be needed and incur charges.
A lot of dentists offer payment plans for cosmetic, restorative and orthodontic treatment. Ask them if they have anything available. Third party financing may be possible if your dentist doesn’t offer this option and you meet the eligibility criteria. That way you can develop a monthly payment plan to suit your budget and not have to wait to have the treatment done.
Watch out for cheap bridges!
If you are shopping around for the cheapest dental bridge, a word of caution… you often get what you pay for. I would as always advise against going for the very cheapest. Cheap bridges suggest a corner is being cut somewhere, be that the length of time the dentist spends working on your teeth, assessing the case, inferior materials or using a very cheap overseas dental lab. Have the treatment with a dentist you trust and who you believe will do a quality job that will last you many years. A dental bridge that lasts well will end up being the most economical investment.
What is the Rebate on a Dental Bridge?
To be able to check your out of pocket expenses, you need the item numbers for any treatment you will be having. Only your dentist will be able to provide you with these after they have examined you and discussed over the various treatment options with you.
When you have this information (we often refer to it as a treatment plan) you can call up or go into your health fund and ask them what rebate you will get on each particular item number. This way you can work out the gap and know what exactly what it is going to cost you out of your own pocket.