How much do single-tooth dentures cost?

NICOLA FIELD
Personal Finance Writer · 14 September 2021
If you have a tooth missing, but still have one or more natural teeth remaining on either your upper or lower jaw, you may qualify for a single-tooth denture, more commonly known as a partial denture. But what exactly are they and how much do they cost? We investigate to help you fill in the gaps.

This article covers:

What is a single-tooth denture?

Single-tooth dentures are an option for those with missing teeth and can be used as an alternative to a tooth implant. The replacement teeth are connected to a gum-coloured base and, usually, a metal framework to create the denture. Unlike full-mouth dentures, partial dentures fill in only a select number of teeth.

Though the term ‘dentures’ can conjure up images of grandpa and his replacement teeth, they aren’t just available for older generations. According to dental insurer Smiles, dentures can help if you’ve lost your natural teeth to damage, decay or injury. And along with a natural looking solution, single-tooth dentures can offer other benefits. Smiles says missing teeth can cause your facial muscles to droop, potentially making you look older, while also affecting your ability to enjoy food and speak comfortably.

Types of partial and single-tooth dentures

There are three main types of dentures in Australia – acrylic, chrome/metal, flexible and clear clasp.

  • Acrylic: Teeth are bonded onto an acrylic base with a metal clasp attached to hold the denture in place.
  • Chrome/metal: Rather than plastic, the denture is made from cast metal, making it a more permanent solution.
  • Flexible: Made with materials such as nylon, the flexibility removes the need for any clasps. If you’d prefer to not show metal and have your denture remain somewhat undetected, clear clasps are made from thermoplastic material and provide that option.

The kind of partial denture available will depend on your dentist and what options they recommend.

How much will a single-tooth denture cost?

Like any dental procedure, multiple circumstances can come into play, making an exact price hard to predict. However, at Northern Rivers Denture Clinic, prices for partial dentures start at $700 but can go as high as $1,700 depending on the type of denture involved. Consider asking several dentists for a price quote, as you may be able to save by shopping around.

Can single-tooth dentures be covered by private health insurance?

Given the cost of single-tooth dental implants, you may only be able to claim for the expense if you are insured for ‘major dental’ work as part of your extras cover.

For ‘Major Dental’ treatments such as partial dentures, most insurers will require you to serve a waiting period of six to 12 months after taking out the policy before you can make a claim. Even then, you may still be up for some out-of-pocket expenses. Some health insurers, such as nib, will only cover you for 75% of the cost of major dental treatments even when you have top extras cover.

Does Medicare cover single-tooth dentures?

According to Aesthetic Dental Clinic, Medicare only covers some treatments by approved providers that are deemed medically necessary. For example, if you were in a car accident and needed a tooth removed as part of a surgical procedure, the costs might be covered. However, Medicare generally won’t cover the price of anything beyond that, such as filling the gap in your teeth with a denture, as this would be seen as a cosmetic procedure.

Can single-tooth dentures be covered through the public health system?

Each state and territory has its own way of assessing whether you qualify to be placed on the public health waiting list to receive dental treatment. For example, in Queensland, patients who need new dentures must either have a referral from a dentist or undergo a clinical assessment before they can be allocated to a waiting list.

In New South Wales, the Department of Health states that if you’re aged over 18, to be eligible for dental care under the public health system, you must hold one a concession card such as a Health Care Card, Pensioner Concession Card or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

Payment plan options for single-tooth dentures

Stats from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare suggest that one in five people aged 15 and over avoided or delayed a visit to the dentist due to the cost involved.

This may be part of the reason why some dentists now allow customers to fund their treatment through a payment plan. This can involve patients paying for their treatment in instalments after it has been carried out, whether it is through a plan offered by the dental clinic itself or via a third party, such as a ‘buy now, pay later’ service or another credit provider.

With an in-house plan, the dental office should explain the terms and conditions to you, as each practice will differ. Once a payment plan is organised and the treatment is carried out, repayments would be made directly to your dentist. With a third-party payment plan, your treatment cost would be paid fully to your dentist, and you would in turn make repayments to the credit provider in installments. Terms and conditions are set by the provider, including the credit limit you can access. Late payment fees may also apply to either option.

ASIC’s MoneySmart website offers tips to make the most of buy now, pay later options, including:

  • Stick to a limit and aim to have only one buy now, pay later account at a time.
  • Budget for bills, loan payments and buy now, pay later payments.
  • Consider linking your buy now, pay later account to your debit card instead of your credit card. That way you’re using your own money and avoid credit card interest.

As well as credit services such as buy now, pay later providers, some lenders offer what are commonly called ‘dental loans’, which are personal loans designed to cover a range of dental bills. If you are considering taking out a dental loan – or a regular personal loan, to help pay for a partial denture or other treatment, make sure you can afford to repay the loan within the specified time period and bear in mind the impact the repayments might have on your existing commitments, as well as your credit score. It can also be a good idea to shop around and compare features such as interest rates, fees and charges.

Is dental tourism an option?

Before the days of COVID-19, as many as 10,000 Australians flew overseas to combine a holiday with dental treatment. The big drawcard according to Dental Guide Australia, was potential savings of up to 75% on the cost of local treatment.

However, the Australian Dental Association warns that qualification standards among dentists in other countries may not be the same as they are in Australia. It adds that other risks associated with this option can include the increased danger of post-procedure infection and patients trying to squeeze multiple procedures into a short ‘holiday’ and not allowing enough time for recovery from each surgery.

Side effects of partial dentures

Anything such as a partial denture that is added to the mouth may well take a bit of getting used to. During the first time wearing it, according to Queensland Health, you may experience:

  • A difference in speech
  • Odd sense of taste
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty eating
  • Difference in mouth appearance

If symptoms persist, Queensland Health recommends making an appointment with a dental professional. However, dentures can be like a new pair of shoes – they may just require a settling-in period.

Taking care of your partial dentures

To ensure you get the most out of your new dentures, the Australian Dental Prosthetists Association (ADPA) recommends keeping your single-tooth dentures as clean as possible to prevent inflamed gums, bacterial infections or further tooth loss. Clean your dentures as you would your natural teeth, twice a day, and after eating when necessary, and always remove your denture for cleaning.

The ADPA says that as a general rule, use a soaking solution and brush your dentures only when necessary and then only with a specially designed soft denture brush. Always clean your dentures over a bowl of water or a folded towel in case you drop them, and rinse your dentures thoroughly before soaking, to help remove any food debris.

Using an effervescent (fizzy) denture cleaner will help remove stubborn stains and leave your dentures feeling fresher. If you leave your dentures out overnight, the ADPA suggests that you leave them in water to prevent any warping or cracking.

Sub edited by Milan Cuk.

Cover image source: RossHelen/Shutterstock.com


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Nicola is a personal finance writer with nearly two decades of industry experience. A former chartered accountant, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Master of Education degree, Nicola has contributed to several popular magazines including the Australian Women’s Weekly, Money and Real Living.

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