Purpose: To review the available literature on the costs and cost-effectiveness of dental implant-supported or -retained prostheses versus tooth-supported fixed partial denture restorations or mucosa-borne conventional complete or partial dentures.
Materials and methods: A systematic literature review of the PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library databases was conducted, restricted to studies published in English between November 2000 and November 2010. The searches returned a total of 381 unique hits, and a total of 14 studies on the long-term costs or cost-effectiveness of dental implants were included in the final review. A true systemic review was complicated by the heterogeneity of the conducted studies.
Results: For single-tooth replacement, dental implants were generally either cost saving or cost-effective in comparison with tooth replacement using traditional fixed dental prostheses. For patients with mandibular edentulism, dental implants were associated with higher initial costs in comparison with conventional mucosa-borne dentures. However, the consensus among most studies was that, over the long term, dental implants represent a cost-effective treatment option. Additionally, patient acceptance, satisfaction, and willingness to pay for dental implants were high, particularly in elderly edentulous patients. A trend toward improved overall health and decreased health care costs was also reported.
Conclusions: For single-tooth replacement, a single implant was a cost-effective treatment option in comparison with a traditional three-unit fixed dental prosthesis. For the replacement of multiple teeth, dental implants (fixed or removable prostheses) were associated with higher initial costs but better improvements in oral health-related quality of life compared with other treatment options.