How much will you have to pay for if your kid needs a dental crown? On the average, a single dental crown costs $800 up depending on the dentist, the location of the clinic, insurance coverage, and most importantly, your kid’s needs. As far as needs go, it is the main factor for determining what material will be used to fabricate the crown. For instance, a crown made of porcelain would cost more than the one made with metal or acrylic resin.
Learn more about dental crowns in detail — their types, costs, indications, and how to properly care for them following placement.
A dental crown is a cap used to restore teeth with extensive decay, when a simple restoration with tooth-colored filling won’t suffice. It is custom-made in order to fit perfectly on your kid’s tooth. To fabricate a crown, your dentist will first remove all the decayed portions of the tooth, do a build-up if needed, then shape it by removing some tooth structure. The build-up, called a core, may be necessary if there’s not much tooth structure left to hold and support the crown.
Once the shaping is complete, the dentist will then take an impression of your kid’s teeth. This impression is where the crown will be molded. Shade selection will also be done, so that the crown’s shade will match that of your kid’s tooth.
The most common indication for dental crowns is restoration of a badly-decayed tooth. Other indications include improving the appearance of severely discolored teeth, protecting a damaged baby tooth, and replacing a single missing tooth if used with a dental implant.
So what factors influence the cost of dental crowns? First, you have pretreatment costs which includes consultation, clinical exams, x-rays, and temporary crowns.
Then, you have the costs for the fabrication of the crown. These include the laboratory fee and the price of the material itself. Your dentist will recommend either an all-porcelain crown, an all-metal crown, a porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crown, or an acrylic crown
Porcelain is a ceramic material with shade that closely resembles that of a tooth. Porcelain crowns are indicated for teeth that are visible when the patient smiles or speaks. Despite its excellent appearance, their main disadvantage is their brittleness — they are weaker and break more easily than metal.
For all-porcelain crowns, expect to pay around $1,500 for a single unit without insurance.
Crowns made of metal are strong and durable, and are therefore indicated for the back teeth where the biting forces are greatest. Compared to porcelain crowns, metal crowns don’t chip or break. However, the main downside is their appearance, as the metallic color is very obvious and unesthetic.
For all-metal crowns, expect to pay around $1,300 for a single unit without insurance.
PFM is basically “the best of both worlds” when it comes to materials. In these crowns, the visible outer part is porcelain bonded to an inner base made of metal, thus offering both the excellent appearance of porcelain and the strength and durability of metal. Take note, though, that excessive biting force can still cause the porcelain layer to chip off.
For PFM crowns, expect to pay a minimum of $1,000 for a single unit without insurance.
Acrylic, or resin, is also known for its tooth-colored shades. Their main disadvantage, however, is that they wear off easily and therefore will have to be replaced every now and then. Thus, the use of acrylic crowns are limited to being temporary crowns.
The dental crowns used for restoring and protecting decayed or damaged baby teeth are the stainless steel crowns (SSC) and strip-off crowns (SOC). These crowns are prefabricated and come in different sizes. They are fixed to baby teeth by means of dental cements.
For single tooth replacements, dental implants are often considered the best option. These implants, combined with dental crowns, look and feel like natural teeth. The implant functions as the tooth root that keeps the bone from shrinking, and attached to it is the crown. The steps in the fabrication of implant crowns also involves taking an impression, fitting and adjustments, and cementation.
For dental implants alone, expect to shell out as much as $3,000 for a single unit without insurance. This number will get much bigger (up to $10,000 to $15,000) if your case requires additional procedures like bone grafts or tissue regeneration. The cost of the crown will make the total even higher.
Root canal treatment (RCT) is a procedure done on severely decayed teeth that would otherwise require extraction. It involves removal of the infected tooth tissues including the pulp, or the innermost portion of the tooth where the blood and nerve supply are located. Despite its key advantage of retaining a tooth, root canal treated teeth are actually weak due to the amount of tooth structure lost. To reinforce the remaining structure, restoration with a crown is necessary.
The cost of dental crowns for a root canal-treated tooth varies according to the location of the affected tooth and the material that will be used to fabricate the crown.
Dental crowns are indicated for teeth that are too damaged to be restored by a simple filling. The damage is often brought about by deep and extensive tooth decay, or by traumatic injury that leaves a huge crack or chipping. Usually, these cases require root canal treatment first which, in turn, makes the remaining tooth structure even less.
Another indication is to improve the appearance of the teeth, particularly if they are heavily stained/discolored or have an odd shape (i.e. peg laterals). Take note, though, that cosmetic reason is more of a “want” instead of “need”, so it is very likely that it won’t be covered by insurance. Lastly, dental crowns are also used for replacing a single missing tooth along with a dental implant. The implant serves as the replacement for the tooth root, while the dental crown that goes on top of it serves as the visible portion of the tooth.
You won’t know for sure if you or your kid needs to have a dental crown unless you consult a dentist. Your dentist, by performing a thorough clinical exam, should know exactly if you need a crown and why.
Placement of a dental crown takes multiple appointments. On the initial appointment, your dentist will conduct a thorough examination of your kid’s mouth and determine the right material for the dental crown. The most appropriate material is based on which tooth is affected, how much of the tooth shows upon smiling, and the position of the gums. Your personal preferences will also be taken into consideration.
After the assessment, your dentist will then start shaping the tooth and make it smaller. If the tooth is severely damaged, your dentist may have to perform RCT first before the shaping. Once shaped, your dentist will then take an impression (a.k.a. mold) of your kid’s tooth using a soft rubbery paste. This step ensures not only a perfect fit, but also a comfortable bite once the crown is cemented.
The impression will then be sent to the laboratory that will fabricate the crown. This usually takes two to three weeks. For the meantime, a temporary crown will be placed over your kid’s tooth to protect it from heat and cold. During this time, it is important to watch what your kid eats to ensure that the temporary crown won’t be dislodged. Your kid will be advised to refrain from eating sticky or hard foods, as these are the most likely to dislodge or break the temporary crown.
After the laboratory finishes the crown, your dentist will set an appointment for fitting and possible cementation. Your dentist will first remove the temporary crown for which an anesthetic may be used to make your child comfortable. The new crown will then be fitted over your kid’s tooth and adjusted accordingly. Once you and your kid are happy with the look and feel of the crown, the dentist will cement it permanently on the tooth.
Dental crowns don’t come cheap, so it’s natural to be concerned about the cost. If you have insurance, a huge chunk of the cost will be covered provided, of course, that the dental crowns are medically necessary. Always check if your insurance policy covers both medical and cosmetic benefits, or if there’s an annual spending limit. If you and your kid have Medicaid, then the cost of the crown is most likely to be covered if it is done for medical reasons.
Looking for a dentist that performs dental crown procedures? Find a Kool Smiles partner dentist near you!