Tooth damage can occur due to various reasons, such as tooth decay or physical trauma.
While dental fillings are sometimes enough to fix this damage, other cases might require a different approach.
Dental crowns are caps made from a tooth-like material. They're placed on top of damaged teeth to restore their shape, function, and appearance.
If your dentist recommends getting dental crowns, you may wonder what their different types are and how much they cost. This guide from Flossy answers all your questions about dental crowns, so you know what to expect exactly from your next dental procedure.
Dental crowns are "caps" placed on top of the teeth.
They come in various shapes, sizes, and materials. Your dentist will create dental crowns based on how your teeth look. This way, a dental crown will be visually indistinguishable from your real teeth.
Your natural (damaged) tooth will have to be reshaped to fit a dental crown. Using a drill, your dentist will file down the tooth until it fits the shape of the crown. After this, a dental crown will get cemented on top of the tooth, making it stay securely in place for years.
You might need a dental crown for any of the following reasons:
Your dentist will be able to tell you if you need a dental crown after a thorough examination. In general, a dental crown can be applied to the teeth to improve their strength, function, or appearance.
If your teeth are not damaged, and you just want to improve their appearance, then a crown is not a good idea.
Because it requires your natural tooth to be filed down (to fit the crown), you may be doing more damage than necessary. Veneers make a great alternative to crowns if you simply want your teeth to look better.
When it comes to dental crown materials, there are several options. These include:
Essentially, there are two types of crowns:
A full crown covers the tooth entirely. It requires the natural tooth to be filed down more aggressively for it to fit. Because a full crown requires more material and takes more time to put on top of the tooth, it should be no surprise that it's more expensive than an onlay.
An onlay requires reshaping only a small part of the tooth. In many cases, it covers only ⅓ or ½ of the tooth, which makes it a less expensive option. In addition, less of the damaged tooth is filed down to fit an onlay.
Your dentist should ask you to come in for two appointments to install a dental crown: One for preparation and the second for application.
During the first visit, your dentist will examine your teeth to make sure that a dental crown is the best option — and not something else. They will take an X-ray of the tooth that needs a crown and its surrounding bone.
Suppose your dentist notices significant tooth decay or injury to the tooth's nerves. In that case, they will perform a root canal before proceeding with the crown. A root canal is a fairly common procedure, can be done under local anesthesia, and has relatively little downtime.
Your doctor will apply a dental putty (a type of paste) to your tooth to make the crown. This will allow them to make an impression, essentially a copy of the tooth that will receive the crown. They then send the impression to a laboratory that will use it to create the crown — a process that usually takes several weeks.
During the first visit, your dentist will also file down the tooth set to receive the crown. This will make space for the crown and ensure it fits properly. How much gets filed down depends on the type of crown you're getting: Metal crowns are thinner and require less space, while porcelain crowns may require the reshaping of a larger portion for them to fit.
If a large portion of your tooth is missing due to damage, your dentist may use a filling material to add volume to the tooth. They can then reshape it to fit the crown's shape.
On the second visit to the dentist’s office, your dentist can apply the crown to your tooth. Before proceeding, they will check if the crown fits properly. If not, it will need to be sent back to the laboratory for reshaping.
If the crown fits, your dentist will likely apply some numbing cream to your gums and proceed with applying the crown. To hold it in place, they will apply a material that acts like cement, which should make your crown last for years to come.
These are some of the most common issues that people experience when it comes to dental crowns:
Dental crowns are low-risk dentistry procedures that have very few side effects. However, it is possible to experience some issues after getting dental crowns.
A dental crown can last anywhere from five to 15 years. You can have a temporary crown or a permanent crown. How long it lasts depends — first and foremost — on the material from which it is made. Metal crowns have the longest lifespan, while all-porcelain crowns have the shortest.
How well you take care of your crowns is also important in preserving them for as long as possible. Anything you do that causes physical stress to the crowns can make them chip or wear away quicker.
Some habits of looking out for include teeth grinding, clenching your jaw, biting your fingernails, and using your teeth to open the packaging.
Fortunately, dental crowns are more durable than natural teeth, so you don't have to be extra careful with them. Recommendations for natural teeth —such as using soft-bristled toothbrushes, special toothpaste, and avoiding citrus fruits — don't necessarily apply to dental crowns. Of course, standard oral hygiene and dental care remain important — getting a crown does not exempt you from flossing!
The cost of a dental crown depends on many factors, including:
For instance, porcelain crowns are usually the most expensive. In addition, metropolitan areas tend to ask for higher prices than rural areas. Regardless, you shouldn't expect to pay more than $1,500 per crown.
Some health insurance companies will cover new crowns if they're applied to damaged teeth. Some dentists may offer payment plans that allow patients to pay in multiple installments if paying out-of-pocket.
If you need a dental crown but don't have health insurance coverage, you don't need to worry. Flossy can connect you with a low-cost dental professional to make getting a dental crown as cost-effective as possible.
Schedule your appointment today to see your options for getting a dental crown.