How Much Does a Crown Cost?

A dentist uses a permanent dental crown placed over a damaged tooth to restore your smile, and improve your appearance. Besides making it easier for you to chew food, a full set of teeth also supports the muscles in your face, and any missing teeth may affect the way you look. A dental crown takes on the same size and shape of a natural tooth, and ensures other teeth don't shift out of alignment. But how much does it cost? Is it expensive?

How Much Does a Crown Cost?

Short answer: Permanent dental crowns generally cost between $600 to $1500 or more for each crown. However, a portion of the cost may be offset by dental insurance in some cases.

Full Answer

The materials used will often determine the cost of dental crowns.

  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns: from $500 to $1,500 or more per tooth
  • Base metal alloys, or metal crowns of gold alloy: from $600 to $2,500 or more per tooth
  • All-porcelain crowns: from $800 to $3,000 or more per tooth (Because they require a higher level of skill, and take more time to install than porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns, or metal alloy crowns)

Other factors include the location, size, and condition of the tooth, local rates, along with the amount of training and experience of the dentist. If the crown is needed for medical reasons, dental insurance might cover up to 50% of the costs, but many dental plans also have a maximum annual limit of $1,000 to $1,500. Unfortunately, crowns that are placed for cosmetic reasons are typically not covered at all.

Additional Costs

How much does a crown cost? Besides the crown, there could be other costs involved, which include:

  • Initial exams may cost $20 to $100, and dental X-rays an extra $10 to $250 or more.
  • If the tooth has been damaged due to injury or infection, has extensive decay, or is in need of a root canal, you can expect to pay an additional $300 to $1500 for a front tooth, or $500 to $2000 for a molar.
  • If a tooth needs to be built up because a large area is missing due to decay, there may be a charge of $150 to $250 or more before a crown can be installed.
  • Alternatives could include using dental school clinics that offer reduced rates for learning purposes and are supervised by licensed dentists.The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research can provide you with tips for finding low-cost dental care.

How Long Do Dental Crowns Last?

The average life of a permanent dental crown is between 5 and 15 years. Dental crown life spans depend on the amount of wear and tear, and proper dental hygiene. Once your dental crown is in place, make sure your teeth are well-brushed, and that you floss. Although the crown protects your tooth from further decay, it is important for you to protect the base of the crown from gum disease, and bacterial growth. Crown's life also depend on whether you clench or grind your teeth, abusing them by chewing ice, fingernails, or even to open packages. The better you take care of your teeth, the longer the permanent crown will last.

When Do You Need Dental Crowns?

Besides how much does a crown cost, when a crown is needed may also be the thing that you are concerned about. Permanent dental crowns not only provide strength and protection for a damaged or weakened tooth, they also provide a significant cosmetic improvement to your smile. Dentists may recommend them because it is often the best option available to extend the life of a tooth for years. Your dentist may recommend installing a crown if:

  • The tooth is unlikely to respond well to professional teeth whitening, because it is severely discolored.
  • The tooth is disproportionally small or misshapen.
  • The tooth is chipped or cracked.
  • The tooth requires additional strength and support.
  • The tooth is severely damaged or otherwise decayed.
  • You are having trouble chewing your food.
  • Your bite is out of alignment.
  • The surface of your tooth is worn down from grinding your teeth.
  • The tooth is too damaged to support an inlay, onlay, or filling.
  • The tooth has undergone a root canal, and needs support to protect the remaining tooth structure.
  • You need a dental implant to replace a missing tooth.

Note: To be eligible for a dental crown, you must have healthy gums. This is because the crown will work in tandem with the healthy foundation of the remaining tooth or implant in order to support the crown.

Potential Problems with a Dental Crown

  • Sensitivity or discomfort: Immediately after the procedure, and as the anesthesia begins to wear off, you may feel some discomfort with your new crown. You may also experience some sensitivity to cold and heat for a period of time, but you can help mitigate the sensitivity by using toothpaste specially formulated for sensitive teeth.
  • Chipped crown: If you have a porcelain crown, they can sometimes chip. A composite resin can be used to repair the chip while the crown remains in your mouth if the chip is small enough. However, if the chip is large or extensively damaged, the crown will have to be replaced.
  • Loose crown: Occasionally, the glue that binds the crown can degrade and wash away. This causes the crown to become loose, and allows bacteria underneath the crown. This risks tooth decay, and should be corrected in the dentist's office.
  • Crown falls off: If for whatever reason your crown falls off, call your dentist immediately for instruction. You may be able to temporarily glue the crown back on with dental glue from your pharmacy until you can be seen by the dentist to have it re-cemented.
  • Allergic reaction: Although rare, there is a chance that you may be allergic to the materials contained in your crown. If you have an allergic reaction, call your dentist immediately.
  • Dark line: A dark line on a crowned tooth at the gum line is normal, particularly if you have a porcelain-fused-to-metal crown. However, if it affects you cosmetically you can see your dentist for possible corrective measures.
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