Dental crowns have long been a solution to restore the look and function of a damaged tooth. These tooth-shaped caps help restore your teeth and improve your smile.
When your dentist suggests you need a dental crown, two questions may come up to your mind: What type of dental crown is best for me? And, what is the cost of it?
This brief guide will help you understand the different types of dental crowns and their costs.
But First, Do You Need a Crown?
Before looking into the different types of dental crowns and costs, how can you know for sure if you need a crown, an inlay, an only, or just a filling?
Well, after a thorough examination during your first office visit, your dentist will evaluate your particular case, and guide you on possible treatments. Generally, some of the most common causes of getting a dental crown are:
· A weakened tooth after severe decay or cavity
· To cover an implant
· To replace a large filling
· A natural tooth that is damaged or cracked
· A tooth that has undergone a root canal (especially posterior teeth)
· To align your bite
· For aesthetics purposes: to achieve a more beautiful smile by leveling the size, shape, and color of your teeth.
What Does Getting a Crown Involve?
In most cases, if you need a custom-made crown, be ready to visit your dentist a couple of times. It is not something a dentist can do in only one appointment unless he or she owns a CEREC® or similar device, which allows patients to get the crown in one visit.
The process may be different for each type of dental crown, too. In general, getting a crown involves:
· Your dentist will prepare your tooth, which can involve just the removal of decay, a root canal, or both.
· S/he takes a mold so that the crown fits the exact shape of your tooth.
· A temporary restoration is used to protect the tooth until the crown is ready. You should take special care of this temporary cap and avoid eating hard or sticky foods to prevent it from cracking.
· After about a week, your dentist will have the crown ready.
What Type of Dental Crown Should I Choose? 5 Main Types
When you need a crown, you immediately start thinking about the types of dental crowns and their costs. This is because today many different types of crowns vary depending on materials, cost, procedures, and patients’ needs.
The main types of crowns used in dentistry include:
1. Gold crowns
Gold crowns are a combination of copper and other metals, such as nickel or chromium. The main advantage of gold crowns is their strength and durability.
For back restorations -and depending on each patient’s needs- some dentists may suggest a gold crown as the preferred option. However, gold crowns don’t make a very popular choice today due to their color and aesthetics.
Main ADVANTAGES of gold crowns:
· They are strong and highly resistant
· They last a long time if properly cared for
· Less proportion of your natural tooth needs to be removed
· They wear down quite slowly, just like natural enamel
· They are ideal for posterior restorations (back teeth), especially second molars
Main DISADVANTAGES of gold crowns:
· Poor aesthetics: They don’t look like a natural tooth
· Gold alloy crowns can affect some people and produce some side effects such as allergic reactions or swelling
2. All Porcelain Crowns
This is the most popular type of crown used nowadays. They are entirely made of porcelain material.
Some ADVANTAGES are:
· Porcelain or ceramic crowns provide the best and most natural look. They match your surrounding teeth in shape, size, and color.
· The best option for front teeth restorations.
· They are biocompatible: that means no metal is used, so they are toxic-free.
The main DISADVANTAGES of porcelain crowns are:
· They are not as strong as metal crowns. Porcelain crowns can last a long time, but they have to be well taken care of.
· Patients who suffer from bruxism should opt for gold of PFM
· They may be more costly than other types of crowns, such as metal crowns.
3. Porcelain Fused-to-Metal Crowns (PFM)
Porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns are another widely used type of dental crowns. They provide both strength (due to their metal structure) and aesthetics (due to the porcelain coat that covers the cap).
The main ADVANTAGES of PFM crowns are:
· They provide great aesthetics and durability
· They’ve been around for over 50 years. We know they work well.
· They are less costly than all-porcelain crowns
However, the DISADVANTAGES of PFMs include:
· The metal in these crowns may cause a grey line at the gumline. This may not give the 100% aesthetic look that all-porcelain crowns provide.
· For people who clench their teeth, this type of crown may wear down more easily against the opposing teeth.
4. Zirconia Crowns
Zirconium is a relatively new material that combines the strength of metal with the aesthetics of porcelain crowns. High translucent zirconia and layered zirconia crowns have become a more popular choice lately.
The main ADVANTAGES of zirconia crowns are:
· They provide great aesthetics
· They are strong and long-lasting (fewer possibilities of chipping or breaking).
· The process can be less time-consuming because zirconia can be cut and shaped at the same dental office. There’s no need to send them over to a dental lab.
· Zirconia Crowns are less likely to wear down due to their strength.
· They are biocompatible: as metal-free crowns, they are not likely to cause allergic reactions.
The main DISADVANTAGES of Zirconia Crowns include:
· Their strength can make the teeth they bite against wear down easily.
· Solid Zirconia can be difficult to adjust
5. E- MAX: Lithium Disilicate Crowns
The newest type of crown in dentistry today is known as E -Max. It is a type of all-ceramic crown made of lithium disilicate (which is also light and thin).
The main ADVANTAGES of E-max crowns are:
· Great aesthetics. They look great in your mouth.
· They can be durable and very strong.
· They provide a great choice both for front and back teeth.
The main DISADVANTAGES of E-Max Crowns include:
· They could be more expensive, especially to the dentist (who may or may not transfer that cost to you)
· Some dental professionals have reported failures using E-Max for posterior teeth, especially when doing multiple units.
What Is The Cost of Dental Crowns?
Now that you have an idea of the different options for dental crowns, you surely want to know the cost of the different types of crowns.
Well, this will vary depending on the material used and the preparation required. For example, all-porcelain crowns are in general more costly than metal ones.
Moreover, in some instances, a core build-up is required to help protect the integrity of the tooth before a crown can be placed.
Other times, dentists need to perform a gingivectomy or minor gum surgery, a procedure in which part of the gums is cut away in the mouth to ensure better aesthetics or prognosis of the tooth or teeth.
In the worst-case scenario, you might also need a root canal, in which case the overall cost of the procedure could easily double.
Generally speaking, crowns can range in cost from $500 to $2000, or more. The range depends on whether or not you have insurance, what your insurance policy covers, the dental fees charged by your dentist, and how many added procedures are needed to complete treatment.
So if you are looking for a low-cost solution, you could spend between $400-600 for an indirect resin crown, which is a restoration that is not made in an outside lab but by your dentist. Think of it as a large filling made in your dentist’s lab.
The pros of this procedure are lower cost and less time in the chair (usually one visit). The cons are durability. Indirect resin crowns are recommended as a budget-friendly low-term solution. But it is not meant to last years and years as crowns do.
So What Is the Average Cost of a Tooth Crown?
According to an estimate made by Costhelper , the price range of dental crowns per tooth today can be as follows:
· The cost of Gold crowns can range between $600-$2,500
· All-porcelain crowns can range between $800-$3,000
· Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns can cost $500-$1,500
· Zirconia Crowns and E-max crowns cost approximately the same as all-porcelain crowns
If you have insurance, about 50% of the crown can be covered. But everything will depend on the type of insurance you have, and your particular case.
If the crown is part of a cosmetic treatment, your insurance plan will most likely not cover the cost of it. But if the treatment is preventative (to cover a root canal or repair a broken tooth) the cost can be covered by your insurance (or at least a percentage of it).
What is the Dental Crown Cost When Going to an In-Network vs Out-Of-Network Dentist?
The cost will also vary depending on whether you go to an in-network vs an out-of-network dentist. Even though in both cases your restoration would be covered at 50%, in the latter case your out-of-pocket would be much higher. That’s because in-network dentists are contracted with insurance companies and must abide by a fee schedule.
For example, if you go in-network and the cost of a crown is $1000, your out-of-pocket would be $500. However, if you go to an out-of-network dentist, he or she may charge $1300 for that same procedure, putting your out-of-pocket obligation at $650 ($150 more than in the first case).
But you shouldn’t make a healthcare decision based solely on cost. If you like your dentist, have good reviews, or comes highly recommended, it might be worth paying for that added peace of mind.
Also, beware of situations where practices, especially larger ones, try to make up the difference in fees by adding services you might not need (ie charging for gum surgery when it’s not needed).
Your best bet is to set up an appointment with your preferred dentist first. Have their staff do a complimentary insurance check to see what your dental insurance will cover and what your portion will be.
With that info, you can then ask around other dentists to make sure your dentist’s fees are within range. But remember: don’t just base your decision solely on price. A friendly staff, the doctor’s bedside manner, and even the labs and materials he or she uses might be worth the extra financial investment.
In Summary, What Should I Consider When Getting a Dental Crown?
A dental crown is a long-lasting restorative treatment. That means you will have a crown for many years in your mouth. Certainly, you want to have it done most professionally and skillfully.
So, if possible, when considering types of dental crowns and cost, try not to go directly to the least expensive dentist without analyzing your options. Weigh in all factors before deciding.
Maybe it’s better to spend a bit more and be sure the results will be good and long-lasting. Choosing only cheap options may lead to poor quality treatments which, in turn, will mean more money, more time, and more discomfort in the future.
You should also check if your dentist works in-network or out-of-network. Even dental offices that work out-of-network will do their best to file all the claims for you so that you can get directly reimbursed to your home once the treatment is over. Sometimes going out-of-network of assigned providers can ensure better quality care and overall improved experience.