Why Dental Crowns?
We all want a mouth full of pearly whites. You want your teeth to be even in size and shape, and white in color. If one of your teeth is broken or otherwise damaged, you may want your smile back. Additionally, you may find it hard to chew on the side that has the damaged tooth. A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “shell” made of porcelain, metal, or a combination of these. It’s used to restore a damaged tooth, or to strengthen a weak tooth (such as one that’s had a root canal). Dental crowns are also used at the ends of dental bridges, to fix one or more artificial teeth into place where a natural tooth has been lost.
Dental crowns are intended to fix extensive problems with one or a few teeth. If you have less extensive problems with your teeth, such as a small crack or or a chipped tooth, dental bonding may be the right solution for you. If you have discoloration or other problems with many teeth, you may want to consider dental veneers. For more detail on dental crowns, please visit the Dental Crowns page in our Education Wiki.
A crown made of porcelain fused to metal is the cheapest type of crown, at $500 to $1,500 per tooth. A metal crown is the mid-range choice, at $600 to $2,500 per tooth, but will only be placed in a back tooth that’s not seen often. An all-porcelain crown is the most expensive, and costs $800 to $3,000 per tooth, and is often used on a highly-visible front tooth. This cost typically includes the cost of both office visits that will be needed; at the first, impressions are made of the tooth and a temporary crown is placed, while at the second, a permanent crown, which was custom-made in a dental laboratory, is placed. Make sure that the entire treatment is included in the price you’re quoted.
Keep in mind that this is only an average; it varies by region and by individual dentist, so you should check with the dentist(s) you’re considering to determine their exact fee for the procedure. Ask what’s included in that fee, to make sure you aren’t surprised by extra costs when you get the bill later.
Will Insurance Cover It?
If a crown is being placed for structural or functional reasons, rather than for purely cosmetic reasons, then dental insurance will often cover part of the cost. This is often the case, as crowns are generally placed on severely damaged teeth or those that have had root canals. You should call your insurance company to determine your coverage, or ask for help from the staff at the dental office; they’re used to dealing with insurance companies and can help you accurately determine your coverage.
Medical insurance typically does not cover dentistry at all. You need to have a separate dental insurance plan to cover dental care.
To many people, paying hundreds or thousands of dollars up front seems impossible. However, if you don’t already have the money saved, you have many options available for financing. In some cases, dentists offer financing plans for their patients. You can also get a medical credit card or other credit card, often with an attractive introductory interest rate; a medical loan, personal loan, or home equity loan from your bank; a loan from your 401(k); or loans or gifts from family and friends. Even if your credit isn’t great, you’d be surprised how many options you have. For more details about the financing options for your procedure, check out our Dentistry Financing page.