What is the Average Cost for Dentures? And What Are the Alternatives?

What is the Average Cost for Dentures? And What Are the Alternatives?

Of the millions of Americans who do not have any teeth, about 90% have dentures. Also called false teeth, dentures are removable dental appliances that replace missing natural teeth.  Patients experiencing severe dental problems or tooth loss often wonder how much dentures cost. The average price varies based on multiple factors, including how many teeth are being replaced and the quality of the materials used. Dentures can range anywhere from $500-$15,000. Patients can also consider the pros and cons of alternatives to dentures, such as a bridge or dental implants.  

What Exactly Are Dentures?

Dentures are a removable appliance that replace missing teeth. Think of them like a retainer, except that instead of holding teeth in place they actually have artificial teeth.

Dentures are typically made of tooth-colored acrylic resin, porcelain, or a combination of both. There are two types of dentures: A partial denture covers a gap in the patient’s smile, while full or complete dentures replace an entire top or bottom row of teeth. It’s not uncommon for patients, particularly elderly people, to get a full set of dentures for both the upper and lower rows of teeth. 

How Much Do Dentures Cost? 

The cost of dentures can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of dentures (full or partial), the number of teeth being replaced, the area of the country where the dental practice is located, and the materials used. For instance, dentures that are made from acrylic typically cost less than porcelain ones. Premium dentures use more expensive materials to look more like real teeth, while less expensive options may not look as natural. 

Full Dentures

Full dentures replace an entire arch of teeth, and some patients have them on both the top and bottom. They are made of a plastic, gum-colored base that holds artificial teeth. Once they are placed in the mouth, dentures look and function just like regular teeth. On average, complete or full dentures can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 per arch (upper or lower jaw). The cost depends a lot on the materials used. A basic set of dentures can cost between $1,000-$1,500, while a premium set can range $3,500-$15,000. 

For patients receiving full dentures, dentists may recommend immediate dentures, which are temporary. These are used for the months after the patient’s natural teeth are extracted while their custom, permanent dentures are fabricated. Though intermediate dentures do not fit as well as custom sets, they protect gum tissue as it heals after extractions and allow patients to have teeth during the waiting period. Of course, temporary dentures can add to the overall cost of treatment. A basic set of immediate dentures can cost between $600-$1000 per arch, with higher prices for premium materials. 

Partial Dentures

A partial denture can be used when a patient is missing some teeth but one or more healthy teeth remain in the affected jaw. It consists of replacement teeth attached to a plastic base that matches the color of the patient’s gums. Like full dentures, partial dentures are removable. Depending on the materials used and the number of teeth replaced, partial dentures range from $500 to $2,500.

Does Insurance Cover Dentures?

Depending on the patient’s case, the cost of dentures may also include additional fees for consultations, tooth extractions, and adjustments. Dental insurance plans often cover some or all of the cost of dentures, so patients should check with their provider to get an accurate estimate of out-of-pocket costs.

Whether partial or full, dentures are typically less expensive than other tooth replacement options. 

patient discussing cost of dentures with dentist
Image by YakobchukOlena by Canva.com

Alternatives to Dentures 

While dentures can be effective and affordable for patients with missing teeth, there are some alternatives available, including fixed bridges and dental implants. 

Fixed Bridges

Dental bridges are an alternative to dentures for “bridging” a gap created by missing teeth. A fixed bridge involves attaching a prosthetic tooth to neighboring teeth, usually using dental crowns. Unlike dentures, bridges are fixed to existing teeth. This helps stimulate the jaw bone through the force of chewing, which strengthens the jaw bone and can help prevent it from deteriorating further. 

Like dentures, the cost of a dental bridge depends on the materials used to fabricate it, the number of teeth being replaced, and additional dental work required. In general, the cost of a bridge ranges from $1,500-$15,000. Fixed bridges offer an effective solution for tooth replacement without the need for dental surgery.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are permanent tooth replacements that are surgically implanted into the jawbone. Dental implants are more expensive than dentures, with prices ranging from $3,000 to $6,000 per tooth. They offer benefits compared to dentures, including improved speech and chewing ability, a more natural look and feel, and a longer lifespan. Like bridges, dental implants provide the stimulation the jawbone needs to stay healthy. Since they integrate into the patient’s jawbone, they stabilize it and the surrounding teeth, preventing shifting and deterioration caused by missing teeth. 

When deciding between dentures and alternatives, patients can consider their budget as well as their overall health and age. For some older patients, the strain and expense of the investment in dental implants or bridges compared to dentures isn’t worth the cost or the healing time, especially when replacing numerous teeth. Dentures may be a more suitable option for someone who is simply looking for a convenient and nearly instant procedure to correct a smile. 

For younger patients who are otherwise healthy, it can be worth the investment in an alternative to dentures. This is especially true when a smaller number of teeth are missing. Most young people don’t like the experience or look of dentures. Also, dentures aren’t nearly as convenient: They need to be cleaned outside of the mouth and are subject to wear-and-tear that requires repairs or replacement. Because bridges and dental implants are fixed replacement teeth, the only maintenance they usually need is brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups. 

Find a Dentist in Your Area

When considering the cost of dentures and their alternatives, it is important to choose a qualified and experienced dentist who can help you understand the pros and cons of each option. Look for a dentist who has experience with dentures, bridges, and implants who can provide recommendations and guidance on the best options for your unique situation.