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What's the cost of dental crowns? (Plus money-saving tips)

When it comes to restoring the appearance and function of your teeth, dental crowns can be a great option, but at what expense? We’ll explore dental crowns to explain their costs, which are influenced by a range of available materials.

Let's uncover how each type of crown can meet your dental needs and budget.

Material Options for Dental Crowns

When considering a dental crown, one of the fundamental factors affecting both the appearance and the cost of the dental crown is the material selected. Let's compare the most common materials used for dental crowns and discuss their pros and cons.

Metal Crowns

Metal crowns are known for their durability and strength, which makes them a reliable choice for molars that aren’t highly visible. Common metals include gold, nickel, chromium, and palladium.

Pros: Longest-lasting, less wear to other teeth, requires less removal of the tooth structure.

Cons: Metallic color, more visible, can be more expensive due to the price of precious metals.

Metal crowns range from $900 to $2,500 per tooth, averaging around $1,300 per crown.

Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Crowns

A hybrid between metal and porcelain, these crowns offer a stronger bond than regular porcelain because they are connected to a metal structure. They are a good match for natural tooth color.

Pros: Better aesthetic compared to metal crowns, more affordable than all-ceramic or all-porcelain.

Cons: Porcelain part can break or chip, may cause more wearing to opposing teeth, metal underlay might show through as a dark line.

Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns range from $800 to $2,400 per tooth, averaging around $1,100 per crown.

All-Ceramic or All-Porcelain Crowns

These crowns provide the best natural color match and are an excellent choice for those with metal allergies. They are suitable for both front and back teeth.

Pros: Best for aesthetics, metal-free, ideal for people with allergies.

Cons: Less strong than porcelain-fused-to-metal, maybe less suitable for molars, and can be more expensive than metal or porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns.

All-ceramic or all-porcelain crowns range from $800 to $3,000 per tooth, averaging around $1,500 per crown.

Gold Crowns

Gold crowns, often combined with other metals, are a well-tested option known for their high durability and compatibility with the body.

Pros: Highly durable, strong, least amount of tooth removal, does not chip or break.

Cons: Distinctive gold color is less aesthetically pleasing for some, typically more expensive due to the material’s cost.

Gold crowns range from $800 to $2,500 per tooth, averaging around $1,200 per crown.

Insurance Coverage for Dental Crowns

Dental crowns can be a significant investment, and understanding how your dental insurance contributes to the cost is crucial. Most dental insurance policies typically cover a portion of the expense for necessary procedures, which can include crowns. 

Insurance coverage for dental crowns in the U.S. often covers around 50% of the total cost if the procedure is medically necessary.

For example, if a dental crown costs $1,000, insurance might pay approximately $500, leaving the patient to cover the remaining balance.

The exact amount covered can vary based on the crown type and your insurance plan's details. For porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns, coverage may range from $300 to $1,000, while gold crowns might be covered from $500 to $1,100, depending on the specifics of your insurance plan.

Understanding Your Dental Insurance Policy

Getting to grips with your dental insurance policy is the first step to estimating your out-of-pocket costs. Here are some tips to understand your insurance coverage better:

  • Look for details regarding the percentage of coverage for restorative procedures like crowns. These are usually classified under 'basic' or 'major' restorative services.

  • Be aware of your policy's deductible and annual maximum as they will directly affect your out-of-pocket expenses.

  • Check if your insurance has a waiting period before certain procedures are covered.

  • Confirm whether you will need a pre-authorisation for the procedure to ensure it's eligible for coverage.

  • Ask if your insurance company uses a "Least Expensive Alternative Treatment" (LEAT) clause which can limit coverage to the least expensive treatment option.

Understanding your dental insurance coverage can be complex, but taking the time to learn about your policy will help you manage the cost of getting a dental crown with more confidence.

Variables Affecting the Cost of Dental Crowns

The cost of a dental crown can vary widely, and it's important for patients to understand the various factors that contribute to this variance. By being informed, you can make better decisions regarding your dental health and budget. 

Here are some key factors that influence the overall cost of receiving a dental crown.

Geographic Location and Dentist Expertise

The area in which you live can significantly impact the cost of dental treatments, including crowns. Dental fees vary from one region to another due to differences in the cost of living, rent, labor, and regional market conditions. 

For example, in urban centers like New York City and Los Angeles, dental crown costs can be significantly higher, ranging from $1,200 to $3,000 per crown.

Conversely, the cost might be lower in smaller cities such as Kansas City or Cleveland, typically ranging from $800 to $2,000.

Additionally, the expertise of the dentist plays a crucial role. Highly experienced dentists or those with specialized training often charge more for their services, reflecting their advanced skills and knowledge.

Complexity of the Dental Issue

Complex cases usually require more time and resources, which can affect the final cost of a crown. If your dental situation involves intricate procedures or multiple visits, you can expect the price to be higher. For example, if you require a root canal prior to getting a crown, this will entail additional costs for the endodontic treatment as well as the restorative crown itself.

Root Canal Requirements: Root canals are often necessary when decay or damage extends into the pulp of the tooth. This procedure, when added to the crown placement, can significantly increase the total cost.

Additional Procedures: In some cases, other procedures such as dental build-ups or periodontal treatments may be required before a crown can be successfully fitted, further influencing the overall expense.

By considering these variables, you can be better prepared for the financial aspects of getting a dental crown. Consult with your dentist to get a more accurate estimate based on your specific situation and to understand the options available to you.

Money-Saving Tips for Dental Crowns

Getting dental crowns can be a significant expense, but there are several strategies you can use to help reduce the costs:

Utilize Dental Insurance: Ensure you fully understand your dental insurance policy. Check if your plan covers crowns and to what extent. Most insurance plans cover 50% of the cost for medically necessary crowns. Additionally, be aware of your plan’s annual maximum, deductible, and any waiting periods.

Choose the Right Material: While gold and all-porcelain crowns can be more expensive, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns offer a balance between cost and aesthetics. Discuss with your dentist the best material that fits both your dental needs and budget.

Consider Geographic Location: Dental costs can vary widely depending on the region. If possible, consider getting the procedure done in a location where dental care is more affordable. For example, dental treatments tend to be more expensive in urban centers like New York City and Los Angeles compared to smaller cities like Kansas City or Cleveland.

Look for Dental Schools: Dental schools often offer reduced rates for procedures performed by students under the supervision of experienced dentists. This can be a cost-effective option for getting high-quality dental care.

Ask for a Payment Plan: Many dental offices offer payment plans that allow you to spread the cost of the procedure over several months. This can make the expense more manageable.

Check for Discounts or Specials: Some dental offices offer discounts for new patients, referrals, or for paying in cash. It’s worth asking your dentist if there are any available discounts.

Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA): If you have an HSA or FSA, you can use these pre-tax dollars to pay for dental procedures, effectively reducing your out-of-pocket cost.

Preventative Care: Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can help prevent the need for crowns. Maintaining good oral hygiene can reduce the risk of decay and damage that might necessitate a crown.

Take the Next Step Towards Your Dental Health

Don't let uncertainty delay your dental health journey. Book an appointment today to receive a personalized estimate for your dental crown. Understanding the cost upfront can help you make informed decisions about your treatment options.

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