Dental crowns are a common dental procedure for people in need of tooth restorations or cosmetic improvements. Dental crowns help cover damaged or misshapen teeth, providing both functional and aesthetic benefits. However, one of the main concerns for individuals considering dental crowns is the cost, especially for those without insurance.
Prices for dental crowns vary based on factors such as geographic location, the material used, and the dentist’s expertise. Without insurance, patients can expect to pay anywhere between $500 and $2,465 per crown. The average cost of a dental crown without insurance is around $1,350, with porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns being the most popular and typically falling in the range of $500 to $1,500 for each tooth.
It’s important to note that while dental crowns can be costly, they serve an essential role in restorative dental procedures, and their benefits shouldn’t be overlooked solely because of the price. Many dentists offer payment plans and financing options for patients, making it easier to manage dental costs without insurance.
Understanding Dental Crowns
Purpose of Dental Crowns
Dental crowns serve a variety of purposes in maintaining the health and function of teeth. They are used to cover and protect a tooth that has been weakened by decay or damage, helping to restore it to its original strength and shape. Additionally, crowns can improve the appearance of teeth that may be discolored or misshapen. Dental crowns can also be used to attach a dental implant to a damaged tooth, providing a secure foundation for the implant.
Types of Crown Materials
There are several types of materials commonly used in dental crowns, each with their own set of advantages and drawbacks:
- Metal crowns: These include gold, palladium, nickel, and chromium alloys. They are known for their strength and durability, but may not look as natural as other options. Metal crowns typically cost between $900 and $2,500 and are most suitable for molars hidden from view.
- Porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns: These crowns combine the strength of metal with the aesthetic appeal of porcelain. They provide a natural appearance but may cause wear to opposing teeth. PFM crowns usually cost between $500 and $1,500 per tooth.
- All-ceramic crowns: Made from a variety of ceramic materials, these crowns offer the most natural appearance, closely resembling natural tooth enamel. Their biocompatibility makes them a popular choice for those with metal allergies. However, they may be less durable than other options. All-ceramic crowns typically cost between $800 and $3,000 per tooth.
- Zirconia crowns: These crowns are made of a metal-free, high-strength ceramic material that provides both durability and a natural appearance. Zirconia crowns are often used on front teeth due to their aesthetics and strength. They tend to cost between $1,100 and $1,500 per tooth.
Factors Affecting Crown Choice
When choosing a dental crown, several factors can influence the decision, including:
- Tooth location: The position of the tooth in the mouth will impact the choice of material, as certain materials may be more suitable for visible front teeth or utilized for the durability required in molars.
- Aesthetics: Appearance plays a significant role in crown choice, as patients may prioritize a natural look for front teeth or opt for a less-visible option like metal for back teeth.
- Strength and durability: For teeth subjected to high pressure during chewing, like molars, stronger materials such as metal or zirconia may be ideal.
- Cost: The cost of a dental crown varies depending on the material and location of the dentist. Patients without insurance will need to consider the affordability of each option and may opt for a more economical choice.
Factors Affecting Crown Cost
Location and Dentist
The cost of dental crowns can vary depending on the location and specific dentist. Generally speaking, prices tend to be higher in metropolitan areas as compared to rural areas. Additionally, attending a dental school for your crown procedure can sometimes result in lower costs.
Type of Crown Material
Dental crowns can be made from various materials, which can influence the price:
- Metal crowns (gold alloy, palladium, nickel, or chromium): $800 to $2,500
- Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns: $500 to $1,500
- All-porcelain crowns: $800 to $3,000
- All-resin crowns: $300 to $1,200
- Zirconia crowns: $1,000 to $2,500
Please note that these prices are approximate and may vary depending on factors such as location and dentist.
Dental Procedures and Complexity
The complexity of dental procedures required for the placement of a crown can also be a factor in determining the cost. Some cases may involve additional treatments, such as:
- Root canal therapy: $300 to $1,500
- Periodontal surgery: $500 to $2,000
- Post or core buildup if the tooth is severely damaged: $100 to $300
- Dental implant (if the tooth needs to be replaced): $1,000 to $3,000
Moreover, temporary crowns might also add to the overall cost, with prices ranging from $50 to $200.
Finally, keep in mind that most dental crown procedures require two visits: one for the preparation and taking an impression of the tooth, and another for the crown placement. The condition of your tooth, materials used, and the required custom-made nature of the crown all contribute to the overall cost. Molar crowns, in particular, may be more expensive due to their larger size, additional work, and materials needed during the process.
Average Prices of Dental Crown Without Insurance
In this section, we will explore the average prices of various types of dental crowns without insurance.
Porcelain crowns are known for their natural appearance and durability. The average cost of a porcelain crown without insurance ranges from $800 to $3,000 per tooth.
Ceramic crowns have a similar appearance to porcelain crowns, but they are made from a different material. The cost of a ceramic crown without insurance typically ranges from $800 to $2,000 per tooth.
Metal or Gold Alloy Crowns
Metal or gold alloy crowns are more affordable than porcelain and ceramic crowns. These crowns are known for their strength and durability, but they do not have a natural tooth-like appearance. The average cost of a metal or gold alloy crown without insurance ranges from $600 to $2,500 per tooth.
Porcelain Fused to Metal Crowns
Porcelain fused to metal crowns combine the durability of metal crowns with the aesthetic appeal of porcelain crowns. The average cost of this type of crown without insurance ranges from $500 to $1,500 per tooth.
All-Ceramic and Zirconia Crowns
All-ceramic and zirconia crowns are some of the most advanced and durable types of dental crowns available. They offer a highly natural appearance and are more resistant to chipping than porcelain crowns. The average cost of an all-ceramic or zirconia crown without insurance ranges from $1,000 to $2,500 per tooth.
All-resin crowns are the most affordable option when it comes to dental crowns. However, they are less durable than other options and may be prone to wear and discoloration over time. The average cost of an all-resin crown without insurance is between $300 and $1,200 per tooth.
Payment Options and Financial Assistance
Dental Plans and Reduced Costs
For those without dental insurance, a dental plan can help manage costs. Dental plans typically offer discounts on various dental procedures, which can help lower the overall expense. Some plans can reduce the cost of crowns by up to 50%. It is essential to research and choose a dental plan that best fits your needs and budget.
Many dentists understand the financial burden of dental procedures and provide in-house payment plans, allowing you to pay for your crown in installments. This can help reduce upfront costs and make it more affordable. Talk to your dentist about the available payment options they offer for patients in need.
CareCredit is a healthcare credit card specifically designed to pay for treatments that are not covered by insurance. With CareCredit, you have the option to finance your dental crown procedure over time. Many providers offer interest-free promotional periods or flexible financing plans.
Dental Schools and Community Health Centers
Dental schools and community health centers often offer low-cost or free dental services, including dental crowns. Since dental students perform the procedures under the supervision of licensed dentists, you can access quality dental care at a reduced rate. Check with nearby dental schools and community health centers for their available services and pricing.
Sliding Scale and Medicare
Some dental providers offer a sliding scale based on your income, which adjusts the cost of dental services according to your financial situation. This can significantly lower the cost of a dental crown procedure. In addition, if you are enrolled in Medicare, you may qualify for limited dental benefits, depending on your plan. It is crucial to check the specific coverage and eligibility criteria to determine if Medicare can help with dental crown expenses.
Crown Aftercare and Maintenance
Practicing good oral hygiene is essential to maintaining a dental crown’s longevity. Consider the following tips to ensure proper care:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, focusing on the gum line and taking extra care around the dental crown.
- Floss daily, making sure to reach the areas surrounding the dental crown.
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash to help reduce plaque and bacteria buildup.
- Consider using tools like interdental brushes or water flossers for additional cleaning around the dental crown.
Regular Dental Visits
Scheduling regular dental checkups is important for overall oral health and for monitoring the condition of a dental crown. Aim to visit your dentist at least twice a year for:
- Cleanings to remove plaque and tartar buildup around the dental crown.
- Examinations to assess the overall health of your mouth, including the dental crown.
- Adjustments or replacement of the dental crown if needed.
Remember to discuss any concerns you have about your dental crown with your dentist during these visits. Early detection of issues can help increase the lifespan of your dental crown.
Proper Chewing Habits
Adopting proper chewing habits is crucial for preserving the integrity of a dental crown. Here are a few suggestions:
- Avoid chewing on hard or sticky substances, such as ice or hard candy, as they can cause damage to the dental crown.
- Be aware of potential clenching or grinding habits; discuss possible solutions, like wearing a night guard, with your dentist.
- Do not use your teeth as tools, e.g., to open packages, as this can lead to damage or dislodging of the dental crown.
Alternatives to Dental Crowns
Veneers are thin shells of porcelain or resin composite which are custom-made to fit over the front surface of a tooth. They are a good alternative to dental crowns when the tooth damage is limited to the front surface or cosmetic concerns. Veneers can help improve the appearance of discolored, chipped, or misaligned teeth.
- Cost: Veneers tend to be more expensive than dental crowns, with prices ranging from $500 to $1,300 per tooth without insurance.
- Procedure: Veneers require minimal tooth reduction compared to dental crowns and can be completed in two to three appointments.
- Durability: With proper care, veneers can last 10 to 15 years before needing replacement.
Dental fillings are used to repair teeth damaged by decay or minor fractures. They are a simpler and less expensive option compared to dental crowns.
- Cost: The cost of dental fillings depends on the material used, ranging from $50 to $250 per tooth without insurance.
- Procedure: Dental fillings can be completed in one visit and usually require minimal tooth reduction.
- Durability: Depending on the type of material used, dental fillings can last anywhere between 5 to 15 years.
Dental implants are a good option when a tooth is severely damaged or missing entirely. They involve placing a titanium post into the jawbone to replace the root of the tooth, followed by a crown to recreate the appearance and function of the natural tooth.
- Cost: Dental implants may cost between $1,500 to $6,000 per tooth without insurance, including the cost of the crown.
- Procedure: Dental implant treatment can take several months to complete, as the implant must integrate with the jawbone before the crown can be placed.
- Durability: With proper care, dental implants can last a lifetime.
Dental bridges are used to replace one or more missing teeth by attaching an artificial tooth to the adjacent natural teeth or dental implants. They can be a more cost-effective solution than individual dental implants for multiple missing teeth.
- Cost: The cost of dental bridges without insurance ranges from $1,500 to $2,500 for a traditional fixed bridge or $2,000 to $5,000 for an implant-supported bridge.
- Procedure: Dental bridges require at least two dental appointments and involve minimal tooth reduction for the abutment teeth or dental implants.
- Durability: Dental bridges can last an average of 10 to 15 years with proper care.