Dental Crown Cost (Tooth Cap)

By Aaron Strickland, D.D.S. on April 10, 2018

gold toothThe cost for a dental crown (tooth crown) ranges from $500 to as much as $3,000. While many factors impact the price, they generally average about $900 with insurance and $1,300 without insurance. That price, of course, is per tooth, and it doesn’t include dental procedures that might be required before the crown is placed.

The truth is that costs vary greatly for dental crowns because variables make each placement unique. Variables like the type of material used, the charges an individual dentist applies, fees, whether you have insurance or not, and how much preparation work is required all impact the price, so no two price tags are alike.

Average Cost of a Dental Crown

While prices vary, the average costs you can expect per crown are as follows:

  • Porcelain-and-metal crowns cost an average of $1,100 without insurance and $856 with insurance.
  • All-metal crowns cost an average of $1,353 without insurance and $882 with insurance.
  • All-porcelain crowns cost an average of $1,430 without insurance and $973 with insurance.

Factors that Impact Dental Crown Costs

Factors that impact the price of dental crowns include:

Who is Doing the Work

A dentist. You’ll likely find price differences of $100 or more between dentists. That’s because there are no standard price structures in the dentistry field, so dentists can charge what they want. Some dentists may charge more because of their location. If they’re in a city, for example, they’ll have higher rental prices or taxes on their office space. Low competition may mean they can increase their prices, as well. Prices also depend on the demand for certain services, their experience, and how busy they are.

A prosthodontist. Prosthodontists are tooth replacement specialists. To become a prosthodontist, a dentist must receive an additional three years of education in a specialized postdoctoral study and then pass a test administered by the American Board of Prosthodontics. Because of their qualifications, prosthodontists generally charge about 20 percent more than dentists for their services.

A dental student. On the other end of the spectrum from a prosthodontist is a dental student. Dental students do not yet have their degrees, and therefore schools offer discounted rates to patients for letting their students practice on them. All procedures dental students complete are supervised by a licensed and insured dentist.

Additional Work

Work other than the crown placement will add to the bill. For example, a root canal can add between $500 and $2,000 to the cost of the procedure. If the tooth that requires a crown is extensively damaged, the dentist might charge more, too.

Also, at most dental practices, the dentist will bill you for your initial consultation: the dentist’s time isn’t free. And besides the consultation, they may bill you for an exam, X-rays, and other treatments (such as fluoride).

Insurance and Discount Plans

Standard dental insurance plans typically cover about 50 percent of the cost of restorative procedures like crowns after the policy’s deductible has been met. However, that deductible and the policy’s limit will affect the cost passed on to you. Plus, you will likely have to prove that the crown is medically necessary. Insurance companies don’t usually cover cosmetic procedures.

Dental discount plans have been increasingly popular due to their low cost, and they really are one of the best ways to save money on dental crowns and other procedures. Unlike dental insurance, dental discount plans place no maximum limits on coverage. Instead, they offer a discounted percentage on as many procedures as the policyholders need. Their discounted percentage isn’t typically as much as what an insurance company would cover, however. But between premiums, deductibles, and limits, they compete very well in terms of what they offer.

Type of Material

The type of material inevitably affects price. And the differences in material go further than resin, porcelain/ceramic, and metal. There are multiple types of ceramic crowns, for example. Procera®, Empress®, CEREC®, Obsidian®, Lava®, In-Ceram®, zirconia, BruxZir®, and IPS e.max® are all brands or types of ceramic dentists may choose from, and each cost different.

Prefabricated Stainless Steel Crowns

The least expensive option for a crown is a prefabricated stainless steel crown. Because these crowns are produced in mass, dentists won’t use these for permanent crowns. Rather, they use them only for temporary crowns, most often for children whose adult teeth are yet to grow in. Prefabricated crowns are extremely durable and don’t cost much at all. Typically, they cost between $150 and $250 per crown.

Resin Crowns

Among the materials dentists use for crowns, all-resin crowns are the some of the least expensive, costing $300 on the low end. Because it’s easy for dentists/lab technicians to color and shape resin, resin crowns tend to look quite natural. But they’re prone to fractures, and they wear more quickly than other types of crown materials. For this reason, dentists usually reserve resin for temporary crowns.

Some dentists do prefer to use resin for geriatric patients, however. Older patients sometimes do not enjoy a healthy diet and engage in poor oral hygiene habits. Because of this, they tend to get more cavities. When these cavities occur, it’s easier for the dentists to repair the damage if their patients’ crowns are made from resin, as resin is easier to remove. Plus, working with resin cuts down on time, so their patients do not need to return for multiple visits (good for patients that cannot get out of their houses easily), and it costs much less (good for patients on social security). Additionally, geriatric patients do not need crowns that will last for decades.

Porcelain-Fused-Metal Crowns

Also called PFM crowns, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns cost anywhere between $500 to $3,000 per tooth. These crowns use a metal base, such as steel or gold, upon which a porcelain/ceramic cap is placed. (A precious metal base like gold or palladium will add $100 to $200 to the price tag.) It’s easier for dentists to place PFM crowns than all-ceramic crowns. And metal bonds to teeth better, which makes for a stronger base, and requires less reshaping than ceramic materials.

PFM crowns don’t look as good as all-porcelain ones, though, because metal base may be visible along gumline. They also are more prone to cracking than all-porcelain crowns. These, among other drawbacks, have led dentists to abandon PFMs.

All-Metal Crowns

While all-metal crowns might not be the most aesthetically pleasing choice, they generally last the longest in terms of material. In the long run, therefore, they might actually cost less than other choices because they’re the least likely to need replaced, especially if they’re made of a precious metal, such as gold. In terms of up-front costs, all-metal crowns cost more than PFM crowns on the low end, though on the high end they’re generally not as expensive.

Because they don’t look like natural teeth, dentists don’t usually use metal crowns for anterior (front) teeth. Instead, they prefer these crowns for posterior teeth (molars).

Gold is a particularly good choice for metal. It fuses to teeth well, and it rarely causes trouble with the gums. Plus, gold’s expansion rate matches the natural expansion rate of teeth, so it’s not likely that gold crowns will crack or squeeze the teeth they cover. Gold crowns have actually been known to last for 50 years or longer.

All Ceramic & Porcelain Crowns

Ceramic and porcelain are the most expensive option for dental crowns. This is because they require more steps in the lab to produce than metal crowns, and many ceramic compounds are proprietary, meaning the companies that produce them charge a premium for the material. Ceramic crowns are also harder to shape than metal or resin crowns, so they sometimes require extra attention and time when being placed.

Dentists prefer porcelain/ceramic crowns for front teeth because they look natural — assuming the lab technicians match your teeth’s color well and the dentist does a good job at shaping the crown. On the downside, not only are they the most expensive option, but they’re hard and brittle, which means they care wear down opposing teeth and are prone to cracking.

Prices vary among ceramic crowns depending on the specific type of material used. The most expensive option for dental crowns is usually zirconia. Zirconia crowns are extremely durable and much less prone to cracking than porcelain. (Zirconia is five times stronger than porcelain.) They’re also biocompatible, meaning they’re safe to stay in the mouth a long time, and they require less reshaping than porcelain crowns.

Among the least expensive options for porcelain is Procera®, an older porcelain compound. Procera® can only be used for single-tooth applications, and it’s being replaced by e.max® industry-wide.

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