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If you face tooth replacement, you’ve probably been told about the benefits of dental implants. They function just as naturally as your original teeth. They are a permanent solution. To the naked eye, they look every bit like your original tooth.

But are dental implants considered to be cosmetic dentistry?

The answer is yes and no. First, you have to ask yourself if you are getting the dental implant purely for cosmetic reasons — the appearance of your teeth — or are you getting dental implants as a means of tooth replacement? Is the dental implant central to the function of your teeth — or is it really just a matter of appearance?

If the dental implant is being done because it will replace a tooth you would otherwise lose that’s central to chewing, the dental implant is a functional procedure. If you are merely replacing a tooth because you want a perfect smile and are mainly doing it for appearance, then this is a cosmetic dentistry procedure.

Why Dental Implants Might Not Be Covered by Insurance

Some insurance companies consider dental implants to be cosmetic regardless of function — they might not cover the procedure. Though dental implants may be central to the function of your teeth, they reason you could just as easily make do with dentures, a bridge or other less expensive tooth replacement alternative.

But whether or not your dental implants are covered by your insurance company, they are worth the price. Dental implants are a permanent solution to tooth replacement. They function just as naturally as your original teeth. You never have to remove them — to clean, you simply brush like you would your regular teeth. And to the naked eye, dental implants look no different than our natural teeth.

Some Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures Are Covered By Insurance

Your dental insurance will cover cosmetic dentistry procedures if they are considered medically necessary. That determination is open to interpretation and the answer may come down to how good of an insurance package you have.

Your dentist can check with your insurance company to see if dental implants are covered. He or she may be able to make the case that the dental implants are medically necessary and not just being done for cosmetic reasons.

Tooth Replacement Alternatives to Dental Implants

There are a number of alternatives to dental implants as solutions for tooth replacement. You can get a removable partial denture, even if it’s just for a tooth or a few teeth. You could also get an all-on-4 — a more affordable option to replace several teeth located next to each other. This option involves securing a set of 4 or 5 teeth to two bridge dental implants — essentially forming a bridge. Unlike dental implants, this is not a permanent option for tooth replacement.

If you are replacing front teeth, you have the option to do a resin bonded bridge. This is a more fragile option that only works for the front teeth because there is less chewing required. This option consists of two wings attached to the abutment teeth on the tooth surfaces nearest to the tongue. The wings are then attached to the replacement tooth or pontic.

Never Ignore Missing Teeth

Regardless of your choice for tooth replacement, the thing you definitely should not do is ignore missing teeth. Your jawbone will slowly disintegrate and your remaining teeth can shift and become loose in the gap where the tooth is missing, potentially leading to more missing teeth.

Talk to your dentist or oral surgeon. We can find you the right option for replacing missing teeth that’s right for your budget.