If you have severe dental decay or a chipped or cracked tooth, your dentist might tell you you need a crown. One of the first questions that come to mind is how much a crown is going to cost. Unfortunately, it can be expensive. The price of a dental crown typically falls somewhere between $800 and $1800.
Why so much? Dental crowns aren’t uncommon, but they’re not exactly routine either. Because getting a crown is a more complicated, specialized procedure than having a tooth filled, it costs more. But there are some ways to find affordable dental crowns.
Why is a Dental Crown Necessary?
A dental crown is a cap that is placed over a decayed or damaged tooth. They protect what’s left once the damaged part of the tooth is removed. A crown is meant to look and feel like the original tooth. There are a few different reasons why one might be suggested.
- Tooth decay. When a cavity isn’t filled, it will get bigger and bigger until the tooth has more decay than healthy tissue. This can be painful and weaken the tooth considerably. Eventually, the hole will be too big for a simple composite filling to fill. A crown might be the only way to salvage what’s left.
- Part of a root canal procedure. One of the results of severe tooth decay is pulpitis, or an infection at the root of a tooth. A root canal is a procedure where the dentist drills into the tooth to remove the infected tissue. He then fills the hole and uses a crown to cover it up and seal it off.
- Cracks or chips. A crown will sometimes be used to cover up a damaged tooth. It will keep bacteria from getting to the tooth root through a crack. When a tooth has a chip, it can cover up any rough or jagged edges.
- Dental Implants. If a dental implant is used to replace a tooth that’s been knocked out or pulled, a crown is attached to the implant post to take the place of the missing tooth.
- Cosmetic reasons. Sometimes crowns cover teeth that are discolored or oddly shaped. There may be no dental health reason for the crown. Because it is a cosmetic choice, this type of crown may not be covered by dental insurance.
Some may wonder why they should go to the trouble of getting a crown. Why not just pull the tooth? That is an option, but it’s not ideal. The empty space doesn’t just leave an incomplete smile, it can also allow the remaining teeth to shift. This can create alignment problems and difficulty with biting and chewing. Sometimes a crown is the best option for continued oral health.
How Much Do Dental Crowns Cost?
We mentioned the average cost of crowns earlier ($800 to $1800), but several factors determine the actual cost. The type of material the crown is made of, the location and size of the tooth, additional work needed to prepare for the crown (for example a root canal), the dentist’s experience, and even the region where you live will all play a part.
Choosing the material used is one way to control the cost and get a more affordable dental crown.
Gold crowns are the most expensive but are also very strong. Other metals like nickel or stainless steel are less expensive but just as durable. They may be a good choice for molars, but since they look the least like real teeth aren’t typically favored for front teeth.
Porcelain or ceramic crowns look the most like real teeth so they are often chosen for highly visible teeth. They can be more expensive than some metal crowns, however, because they must be custom made in a lab. One drawback of porcelain is that it can chip or break.
A more affordable option is porcelain fused to metal crown. It consists of a metal base with a coating of porcelain. The result offers the strength of metal with the aesthetics of porcelain. Sometimes the porcelain can wear away, revealing the metal beneath, but it is much less likely to chip or crack than 100% porcelain.
Finally, the most economical choice is a resin crown. Resin crowns look almost as natural as porcelain crowns but the material is not as strong. They can wear down or crack over time. They may not have as long a lifespan and may need to be replaced after a few years.
Some people believe that some materials used for crowns are toxic. Often they mistake allergic reactions for toxicity. Dental crowns are safe. You can read more about the topic here.
Dental Crowns, Insurance, and Other Payment Options
Because insurance plans vary widely, it’s difficult to say how affordable dental crowns will be once insurance coverage is applied. In general, dental crowns are covered, provided they are medically necessary. If they are used for purely cosmetic reasons, you will probably be responsible for the full cost.
Many dental insurance policies work with a 100-80-50 method. This means they will pay 100% of preventative dental costs, 80% of basic procedures (fillings and sometimes root canals), and 50% of major procedures (crowns, bridges, and dentures).
In addition to a set percentage that insurance will cover, some coverage includes a cap on what they will pay per year. If an individual is looking at extensive dental work for several teeth, it might make sense for them to spread it out over time to ensure they come in under the maximum allowable claim.
The best thing to do is talk to the insurance company before starting dental treatment so there are no surprise expensive bills. Those without insurance might want to consider a dental credit card or other third party financing option. They can allow people to get the care they need, even on a tight budget.
Patients should also discuss the costs with the dentist before they start and get an estimate of what the work will cost. The dentist can review the options for affordable dental crowns. Many practices also offer payment plans that will ease the burden. If you need a dentist, use our online tool to search for one in your area.
Don’t Delay Getting a Dental Crown
It’s understandable to be discouraged about the cost of dental crowns. But as we detailed in this article, finding the cheapest alternative isn’t always the best choice. Instead, look for a reputable dentist who can give you a good quality crown that will last a long time. Shop for value rather than price alone.
It is best not to put off getting a dental crown if the dentist says you need one. Allowing a damaged tooth to go untreated is painful and will only get worse. Waiting could very well end up being even more expensive. There are affordable dental crowns out there to give you back your smile.