Does Medicare Cover Dental Implants?

Fact Checked

Does Medicare Cover Dental Implants?

Original Medicare, Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) do not provide dental coverage. Most Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, which are an alternative to Original Medicare, offer some dental coverage for many dental needs, but not all plans help pay for dental implants.

Dental implants fall under a branch of dentistry called prosthodontics, which includes designing, manufacturing, and fitting artificial replacements for teeth. Dental implants are an alternative to dentures or bridgework, providing solid support for your teeth – and you don’t have to worry about ill-fitting dentures.

Getting a dental implant involves surgery. The whole process can take months from start to finish. There are three main components of dental implants:

  1. Surgical placement of a metal post, usually made of titanium, which replaces the root portion of a missing tooth.
  2. Installation of an extension of the post called an abutment.
  3. Placement of an artificial tooth (crown) on the abutment, giving you the look and feel of a real tooth.

Depending on the type of implant you get and the condition of your jawbone, the process can involve several procedures. Part of the reason it can take months is because the bone has to heal around the implant.

Dental implants can be an extensive and expensive process. Choosing dental implants is a big decision that is made between you and your dental provider. You will take into account the health of your jawbone, the process involved, and the pros and cons of dentures. Another important piece of the puzzle is whether or not your insurance will help pay. Even though you will incur out-of-pocket costs, the functionality and look of dental implants may make it worth it to you.

Which Medicare Plans Will Be Most Helpful If You Need Dental Implants?

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans with supplemental dental coverage that includes dental implants will be most helpful. You may have to pay an additional monthly premium, and there will always be a maximum dental benefit amount allowed, along with either a copay or coinsurance. If you need dental implants, you will incur some amount of out-of-pocket expense.

Not many MA plans cover dental implants. Some MA plans specifically exclude dental implants, even if they offer other comprehensive dental benefits. Some MA plans offer artificial posts or crowns, but not the surgical placement of the metal post required for an implant.

MA plans may list “dental implants” or “prosthodontics” as either a covered item or an exclusion in the Evidence of Coverage (EOC) document associated with each plan. If dental implants are covered, you will be responsible for a copay or coinsurance until the max annual benefit is reached. You will then be responsible for the remaining costs of the dental services you receive that year.

Dental coverage is detailed in the EOC, but the terminology, codes, and lists of dental procedures can be overwhelming. It is best to talk with a dental provider who routinely works with insurance companies and understands all the terms and codes associated with prosthodontic procedures.

A review of the EOC of some of the larger MA plan insurance companies in the U.S. shows that one major carrier (Blue Cross Blue Shield/Anthem) has some benefits for dental implants in 2022. Check to see if this company has plans available in your area. You can search the Medicare website or contact your dental provider to ask if they are a DentaQuest network provider.

BlueCross BlueShield/Anthem’s HMO optional supplemental package #3 includes enhanced dental and vision benefits. You pay a monthly premium between $50 and $70 depending on your plan and county of residence.

The plan will pay up to $2,000 for all dental benefits each year. You must use DentaQuest providers only. For implants, you pay 50% as your portion of the covered charges until your maximum benefit is reached. Then you pay for any other costs. Any dental services expenses you incur do NOT apply to your in-network out-of-pocket maximum.

There are other expenses related to dental implants, such as exams, x-rays to determine the state of your gums and teeth roots, and tooth extractions. If your MA plan has dental benefits, routine exams and x-rays are generally covered at least in part. Depending on your plan, tooth extractions may be partially covered as well. Crowns are sometimes covered, but if a plan excludes dental implants, the crowns associated with them are typically excluded as well.

The majority of dental implant procedures are done on an outpatient basis. Your MA dental plan may partially cover costs associated with the procedures, such as anesthetic or nitrous oxide.

The best way to determine if your MA plan with dental benefits pays for these other expenses related to dental implants is to talk directly to your dental provider/biller who works with insurance and understands which codes to apply to your claim.

If you have an MA plan that would pay for dentures (many MA plans do) as an alternative to implants, it is worth exploring whether or not some of those benefits could be applied to your dental implant costs.

Does Medicare Cover Medications Before Or After Implant Surgery?

Medications you may need before or after implant surgery, such as antibiotics and pain meds, are covered by the drug benefit associated with your MA plan; or by Medicare drug coverage Part D, if you have a standalone drug plan instead of a MA plan. Part D or your MA plan with drug coverage will only pay for medications on the plan’s formulary. Typically, you have copay or coinsurance costs, which vary depending on which tier of drug your dentist prescribes for you.

Kelly-Blackwell Headshot
Certified Senior Advisor®

As a health care professional since 1987, Kelly Blackwell has walked alongside and cared for seniors as they journey through the season of their fourth quarter of life. Blackwell holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Northern Colorado, a Master of Science in health care administration from Grand Canyon University, an interprofessional graduate certificate in palliative care from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and holds a Certified Senior Advisor® credential from the Society of Certified Senior Advisors.

Blackwell contributes to the University of Colorado-Anschutz blog and has been published in “The Human Touch” distributed by the University of Colorado Center for Bioethics and Humanities. She cowrote “Dying Is” for Pathways Hospice.

A registered nurse, Blackwell understands health insurance choices influence quality of life and are driven by values, goals, and beliefs. She’s passionate about engaging with, educating, and empowering seniors as they navigate the health care system. She’s equipped to lend an experienced, compassionate voice to beneficiaries seeking information about Medicare Advantage Plans.

As a CSA®, Blackwell has access to valuable resources for Medicare beneficiaries. Her work as a bedside nurse and clinical manager has given her the opportunity to see how Medicare rules, regulations, and benefits work when patients need them. With a passion to learn and to make a difference in the lives of seniors, Blackwell supports seniors through Medicare and fourth-quarter life decisions.

Learn More From Our Sources