The price of any dental procedure depends on a variety of factors.
So if you want to save money on the cost of a dental crown, knowledge is your greatest tool. Here, we provide both a full breakdown on pricing and how to find inexpensive dental care.
This is the ultimate guide to dental crown costs and how to reduce them, after all.
Read this post until the end and apply what you learn. If you do, you will undoubtedly get the best possible value for you money. Information is the foundation of health—dental and financial included.
How Much Do Dental Crowns Cost?
Dental crowns are one of the most fundamental tooth restoration methods.
Dental crowns cost $500-3,000 per tooth, not including dental procedures that may be required before they are applied. For instance, root canals may add $500-2,000 or a dental implant may add $1,000-3,000 to the total cost of your tooth restoration.
Dental crowns are dental prosthetic devices that cover damaged teeth or dental implants. They are tooth shaped, covering your tooth all the way to the gum line, and allow you to use your tooth like normal.
Crowns usually require multiple appointments. The first appointment begins the mold-making process, in addition to whatever repair procedure accompanies the crown. The crown itself is usually made in a dental laboratory.
There are a number of factors that play a role in the wide range in costs. These include issues inside your mouth as well as where you live and your dentist’s specialties.
In most cases though, the application of a dental crown requires another procedure to precede it. This certainly has a large effect on total costs of restoration. It’s important that you get a clear picture of how all of these costs break down when you get quotes.
But the type of dental crown you receive always plays a major role.
Metal Crown Costs
Metal crowns are the longest lasting type of dental crown.
Metal crowns are more commonly used on molars for cosmetic reasons. They may also be offered as a budget option because they require less preparation than ceramic crowns.
Aesthetics aside, metal crowns may actually save you more in the long run as well. Of all dental crown materials, metals last the longest. Plus, other materials can damage surrounding teeth. Metal crowns do not.
Despite these advantages, many people still prefer ceramics.
Ceramic & Porcelain Crown Costs
Most dental crowns for visible teeth are made of a ceramic material, such as porcelain.
Ceramic crowns cost $800-3,000 or more per tooth.
Crowns made of porcelain and other ceramic formulas require more time and technical skill to install. Your dentist’s material and laboratory costs are generally about the same, but ceramics usually require additional tooth reshaping costs.
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Porcelain crowns look the most like regular teeth, which is why they are the preferred choice for front teeth. When done well, it can be hard to tell the difference.
However, ceramic crowns have several issues. They are prone to chips and cracks. Plus, they can chip or crack your natural teeth. This is especially likely when it comes to molars, which bare most of the stress from chewing.
Porcelain Fused to Metal (PFM) Crown Costs
Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are a hybrid of the first two crown types.
Also called PFM crowns, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns cost $500-3,000 per tooth. The use of a precious metal base, such as gold (PFG crowns), will add $100-200 to your price.
PFM crowns are easier to apply than all-ceramic crowns. Metal bonds to teeth easier and requires less reshaping. The metal base also makes the entire crown stronger. The ceramic coating makes it more aesthetically pleasing than metal alone.
However, the strengths of each material come along with the weaknesses.
PFM crowns don’t look quite as good as all-ceramic crowns: they are more opaque and a metal line is visible along the gum line. And unlike metal, ceramics are prone to chipping and damaging your natural teeth.
Other Types of Dental Crowns
Beyond the three main types of crowns, there are a few others you might want to know about.
You may be able to find resin crowns starting at $300. They look natural, but are very prone to damage.
Some of the most expensive dental crowns are made of pure zirconia.
Zirconia crowns are extremely durable, “biocompatible”, and require less reshaping than porcelain crowns. This means your total tooth restoration costs may be lower than ceramic. Zirconia is becoming more common, but you still might need to do some research (or travel) to find a dentist offering it.
Prefabricated stainless crowns cost $150-250. Children’s crowns are often this type. These temporary crowns are also used to cover a recently reshaped tooth while a custom-made crown is being made in the lab. Though durable, they are not intended for long term use.
Other Costs Associated with Tooth Restoration
Understanding the associated costs of dental crowns is vital to figuring out how much you will pay in total.
In most cases, you’ll be billed for your consultation. Initial exams start out at $50-200 but may increase due to X-rays ($25-250) or other costs.
However, the number one thing that affects the total cost of tooth restoration isn’t the crown itself. It’s actually the procedures that go along with it. You may need a crown after a root canal, to cap a dental implant, or as an abutment for a bridge.
Bills for these procedures must be factored into your total costs.
If your tooth restoration doesn’t require any of these complementary procedures, consider yourself lucky. In that case, you’re more likely looking at some minor tooth filing costs. Or maybe you’ll have to pay $150-250 to build the tooth up. Such costs may be included in the cost of your crown.
The main thing is that you know exactly what you are being charged for. Understanding initial quotes helps you avoid being surprised by final bills.
Crown Replacement Costs
Typically, the cost of replacing a crown is the same as a new one.
That’s because your dentist’s expenses will be about the same. It will take about the same amount of time too.
The only thing that may change is the preparation. If you were charged for tooth filing or other contouring with your first crown, you may not need it the second time. Knowing (and keeping record of) how you were charged the first time, could help you lower the cost of a replacement crown.
You also want to consider replacement costs when selecting which type of crown to get in the first place. Replacement crowns are often treated differently from the initial installation by dental insurance.
Remember, choosing materials such as metal or zirconia could save you in the long run by delaying replacement costs—or preventing them altogether.
General Dentists vs. Prosthodontists
You might not expect this, but there may actually be good reason to pay more.
General dentists require at least four years of dental school. However, dental education can go beyond this.
Tooth replacement specialists are called prosthodontists. Some oral surgeons or general dentists may promote themselves as such, but prosthodontists are the only dental professional recognized by the American Dental Association as tooth replacement specialists.
After completion of dental school, prospective prosthodontists must apply to a postgraduate program that takes an additional three years to complete. Then, you have to pass a test to get certified by the American Board of Prosthodontics.
This additional training means three things.
1) Prosthodontists are more qualified for challenging restorations.
2) Prosthodontists generally provide a higher quality final product.
3) Prosthodontists are about 20% more expensive than general dentists.
There is a reason the cliché “you get what you pay for” will never die:
And in this case, choosing a prosthodontist may save you money on replacement costs down the road.
Only you can determine what is truly best for you. Either way, there are strategies that will surely help you lower your total crown costs.
How to Save Money on Dental Crowns
This means that the chances of finding relatively inexpensive crowns is pretty high. All that is required is research—and perhaps a bit of creativity.
There are, in fact, a variety of different organizations that can help you save money on dental expenses.
Let’s start with our public institutions.
Medicare, Medicaid, & Dental Crowns
America spends more on health care than any other country in the world.
Many seniors (through Medicare) and low-income individuals (through Medicaid) depend on the government to help with these costs. Unfortunately, dental health is largely undervalued.
For instance, Medicare only helps with dental expenses related to an emergency. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that Medicare will help you pay for a dental crown.
However, those who qualify may receive help from Medicaid. As of February 2015, 26 states offered help with “restorative care” for adults through Medicaid. Most dental crowns fall into this category.
Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is jointly funded by the states and federal government. This means that each state has some flexibility as to how they will help Medicaid beneficiaries. You’ll have to do your own research to find out what your state offers.
States tend to expand and contract benefits based on their economy; make sure your information is up to date.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be able to tell you what is currently available in your state. The fastest way to find out is to simply call 1-800-MEDICARE.
In all states, citizens age 21 and younger are covered through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit.
You shouldn’t expect much help from the government if you don’t qualify for Medicaid. Still, affordable dental crowns are likely within your reach.
Crowns are a fairly common dental procedure.
Dental insurance is one of the main ways you can protect yourself from high dental bills.
Most standard plans will cover up to 50% of the cost of restorative procedures, such as crowns. However, most plans also have annual limits of $1,000 or $1,500. Your total teeth restoration costs may far exceed this.
Plus, you’ll probably need to prove that the crown is medically necessary for your insurance company to chip in. Cosmetic procedures aren’t usually covered.
If your restoration does qualify, you might want to consider dividing the procedure over two calendar years. Having one portion at the end of December and the other at the beginning of the next year may help you get more out of your dental insurance plan.
Regardless, you’ll probably be looking for more help shouldering the cost.
Dental Discount Plans
Growing in popularity, dental discount plans are one of the very best ways to save money on dental crowns and other procedures.
Unlike dental insurance, there are no maximum limits on coverage. Instead, these memberships offer a discounted percentage on as many procedures as you need.
You can find a plan that fits exactly what you need. Simply shop around. As always, be sure that you are thorough in your research and understand the parameters of any plan you choose.
Depending on what kind of coverage you’re looking for, you may find discounts of up to 60%.
It’s easy to find a plan that’s right for you based on the procedure you need.
- Visit dentalplans.com
- Select the type of dental procedures that you would like to save on the most
- Enter your zip code
- Select plan type
- Enjoy your savings!
Dental schools might be the best place to find dental services at a reduced cost.
You get a discounted rate by offering yourself as training material for undergraduate students. It may sound risky, but that’s the main reason you get to pay less. Plus, all procedures are supervised by a licensed and insured dentist.
Obviously, you might need to lower your cosmetic expectations. And you probably want to avoid this option if the tooth restoration you need is complicated.
Too much of a stretch for you?
Some dental schools also offer faculty or graduate clinics as well. Your discount will be less, but you can feel fully confident about the quality of care.
Take into account that dental schools often have waiting lists. Delaying action on dental issues often leads to higher total costs. Keep this in mind as you search schools near you.
International Dental Crown Costs
Getting a dental crown overseas may seem even more risky than an undergraduate clinic at your local dental school.
However, “dental tourism” is rapidly becoming more popular as Americans realize that they can save a lot of money without losing quality.
Expensive procedures like tooth restoration are usually the best candidates. For example, MEDIGO reports dental crowns starting at $120 in Mexico, just under $150 in Spain, and just over $300 in Germany.
While some Americans are skeptical of the standards overseas, others become very curious when they find out how much they can save.
Obviously, you want to do your due diligence. Examine reviews of clinics and familiarize yourself with dental tourism best practices. Don’t pay for anything before you know exactly what you’re paying for.
Basically, treat any foreign practice the same way you would a local practice. Do your research and see where you can negotiate.
The research becomes even more involved, but there are still a few options closer to home.
In fact, your local United Way may have information about dental clinics in your area. The same goes for state and municipal health departments. Simply call. Many local organizations sponsor free or very low cost dental clinics at different times of year.
Lastly, you may be able to find dental crowns or other tooth restoration procedures via ClinicalTrials.gov. Search for “dental crowns”, “crowns and bridges”, or “tooth restoration”. Or search for an accompanying procedure like “root canals” or “dental implants”.
No one said finding inexpensive dental care is easy. But it is certainly possible. Determination and luck may even find you getting the care you need, free of charge.
More likely though, you’ll use a combination of strategies to get the price as low as possible.
Other Ways to Save on Dental Crowns
The price of all dental services are largely determined by factors unrelated to the procedure.
It may surprise you, but location and marketing strategies can play a major role in how much dental professionals are able to charge. At first glance, this may seem unfair or even unethical. But look again and you should see the opportunity.
This means you may be able to secure considerable savings with research and communication skills.
If you really want to save on dental crown costs, make sure you:
Don’t wait. Life rewards action takers. This is true when it comes to dental care, at least. If you wait to have your tooth restoration done, the damage will likely grow worse. This means that your eventual solution will be more complicated, more difficult, and more expensive. The best way to save money is to get it done.
Choose metal or zirconia. We tried to make it clear before. But we want to make sure you got the message: choosing a crown material that lasts will save you money. The effects may not be immediate. But if two crowns cost the same, the one that lasts twice as long ends up being half as expensive. After all, you need half as many.
Scout the area. Call around and aim for multiple consultations. Try to gather as many local quotes as you can. You may be shocked at how much prices can differ within 30 minutes driving distance. Willingness to commute is a great way to save 10% on dental crown costs. Search where property values are the lowest first.
Hunt for the pushovers. More likely than not, there are a few dental professionals near you that are hurting for business. Some may even be desperate for clients. Poor publicity, a new practice, terrible location, or outdated marketing could all play a role. Whatever it is, finding a dentist who needs you as badly as you need them can help.
Bundle services. You may be able to save money on your crown because it will come with another procedure. When you require two expensive dental services at once, your dentist may cut you a discount. The key is that you ask. If you are turned down, consider the next option. And make sure your dentist knows that you are.
Get services separately. Breaking up the parts of tooth restoration between professionals may also save you money. For instance, you may be able to find free extraction at a local clinic. Your regular dentist may specialize in inexpensive dental implants. Then, you might find a promotion on crowns from a new prosthodontist.
Ask. Many dental patients pay more than they should just because they don’t ask for a lower price. The fastest way to fail at negotiation is to fail to negotiate. Dental services generally carry high margins and high hourly labor costs. Prove that you’ve done the research on the procedure and the local market. Then ask nicely and see what comes.
Let your cash talk. If you don’t know this one, you simply don’t know. Dentists pay fees to both insurance companies and credit card companies when you use them. Paying in cash or check saves them money. When leveraged properly, they may pass those savings directly on to you. Mention it to every single dentist you consult.
Perhaps the most important thing that predicts how much you will pay for tooth restoration is how determined you are to save.
Research and effort bring dental crown costs down. Frustration and impatience only lead to settling.
You’ve taken the first step by spending your time reading these 3,000+ words. Execution of all of these strategies will take even longer.
You’ll think the effort was well worth it though, if you end up saving thousands on the cost of your dental crown. Tooth restoration can certainly be expensive. But it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Whoever you are, there are a variety of different price points you might end up at. Mix and match the tactics we’ve laid out here and you’ll undoubtedly pay less.