Regardless of whether you're missing a single tooth, or looking to replace an entire set of teeth, permanent dental implant surgery is undeniably one of the best solutions available for patients.
You'll very quickly have an improved appearance, better overall oral health, and the ability to eat without any pain or discomfort.
However, it's never the advantages of dental implants that deter the patients that really need them from committing to oral surgery - it's the cost.
In fact, we've seen numbers of Kiwis opt to travel overseas to countries like Thailand for a cheaper surgery while on 'dental' holiday which, of course, comes with risks.
We understand the financial pain points of our patients. That's why in this blog, we endeavour to answer your most common FAQs:
- So why does implant surgery seem so expensive in New Zealand?
- Is it worth travelling abroad for cheaper dental surgery?
- Are there alternative ways to cover my dental costs?
With a peak under the hood of oral surgery operations in New Zealand, you might be surprised to learn where your hard-earned coin is going.
So what exactly are you paying for?
The first thing to know is that the rate you pay for your implant surgery depends significantly on the area you live in, the technology and equipment used at your chosen facility, and the balancing of competitive rates in the area.
The New Zealand dental, oral and maxillofacial surgery industry isn't cost regulated by the government, so no matter where you go across the country, there's no flat rate for any given treatment.
Part of the reason for this is that treatments also aren't subsidised by the government in the same way that General Practitioner healthcare is. This means that, while prices for oral surgery may seem comparatively high, the 'true' cost of other healthcare is government-funded.
Implant Treatment Overheads
Beyond the factors of location and government funding, there are a few reasons why dental implant surgery is a particularly costly procedure:
- Implants are considered surgery. Your doctor must have completed specialist training in oral surgery to even perform the procedure. A very costly, and highly in demand, qualification. Therefore, you'll be charged at a higher rate than a simpler procedure.
- The number of necessary appointments. From start to finish, an All-on-4 treatment takes approximately five appointments, so a lot of the cost goes towards the labour costs of your surgeon.
- The cost of materials. Included in the overall cost of your surgery is the cost of the materials used, which is actually two separate elements: the implant and the crown.
- Technology and tools. Drill costs, surgical kits, x-rays, anaesthetic, iCat scanning, digital implantology software - theses are all necessary costs that are covered by your fee.
- Cost of running a surgery. Simply keeping the lights on and powering the machines is an overhead that has to be factored in.
With all factors considered, it's easy to see how costs can seem a little pricey, however, it's important to note that the quality, safety, and technology that New Zealand surgeries can offer make the price tag attached to implant surgery locally well worth the investment.
Is it worth travelling abroad for Dental Implant Treatment?
The option of travelling abroad on a 'dental holiday' is one that has been highly publicised in the media over the past few years and is undeniably a tempting option.
Who wouldn't be tempted by a short holiday, all of their treatments and a lower price tag than their local surgery attached?
However, as with most things, if you're lowering your costs, you're also likely to be compromising in quality.
Here are a few things to look out for:
- New Zealand has standardised health regulations that keep the quality of treatments, and the qualifications of our surgeons, reliable. In other countries, regulations are less strict, and quality varies.
- Follow-up and maintenance appointments are essential and only possible if you're actually in the country where you received your treatment. If anything (although unlikely) goes wrong here in NZ, you can easily head back to your practitioner for assistance.
- New Zealand has a Standards Framework for Oral Health Practitioners which requires any New Zealand Dentist or Oral Surgeon to put the patient's interest first instead of their own financial gains, maintain a safe workplace to ensure patients' safety, and upgrade their skills by getting involved in professional and learning activities.
Of course, there's a much longer list of reasons to consider which you can check out in our blog; Risks of Dental Treatments Abroad.
The most important take-away here is that in New Zealand there are laws, regulations, and qualifications that ensure that you're always getting the best possible treatment and that your safety comes first.
It's almost always worth paying a little more in the short term to prevent ongoing and costly problems in the long term.
Are there alternative ways to cover my dental costs?
Not everyone has a spare $4,000 - $8,000 spare change in their pocket ready to hand over for the sake of a pearly white smile and a fresh set of All-on-4's, and we understand that.
Fortunately, it is possible to get the best possible solutions when it comes to dental implant treatments. We'd suggest looking into the following options:
- Children: Children in New Zealand who meet the eligibility criteria for publicly funded health and disability services are entitled to free basic oral health services from birth to 17 years of age (until their 18th birthday). These services include everything from x-rays, cleaning and fissure sealants, to your regular check-ups. If you haven't already enrolled your child, you can find more information, here. Of course, the best part of this is teaching kids a healthy oral care routine sets them up to take care of their teeth later in life.
- Adults: While limited, there are options available for adults who qualify to help fund dental procedures. For example, people on low incomes who have a Community Services Card may be able to get emergency dental care such as pain relief or extractions. As well as this, people with specific medical conditions or disabilities may be eligible for funding. You can check out the list of options, here.
- ACC: Finally, if your oral surgery is necessary as a result of an accident or injury, you could be eligible to receive ACC cover - it's well worth applying. For this kind of financial help, you can take a look at eligibility requirements, here.
Dental insurance is a great option to consider, as it will cover any dental treatment costs (specified in your policy) while your cover is active. This can really set back any immediate costs and make the treatments you need more affordable in the long term.
Of course, your selected oral surgery clinic may offer alternative payment plans and options to help you out if you need surgery. Here at NSOMS, we have a wide range of payment options available to service all of our clients' needs.
How to decide if it's worth the money
The bottom line is, if you're looking for the best possible quality, a high calibre of technology, and the safest procedure, it's usually best to stay right here in New Zealand.
There are a number of payment options available to help to reduce the immediate cost and, when all overheads and costs are considered, the price attached to implant surgery actually isn't too unrealistic at all.
Of course, every patient is different and your needs may differ significantly from the next person. For this reason, we always recommend booking a consultation with an Oral Surgeon to discuss your options before making any decision.
If you'd like to go over your options and discuss costs relevant to the implant treatment you need, get in touch with our friendly team. They'd be more than happy to help!