If you’ve got a damaged or missing tooth that cannot otherwise be treated with dental bonding or veneers, your only restorative solution will be with a dental crown. Crowns are fixed dental restorations that are placed on top of a damaged tooth, dental implant or bridge to replace a missing tooth, or otherwise improve the appearance of the smile.
Also commonly referred to as a “cap,” a dental crown rests above the gum line, but completely covers the natural tooth or underlying restoration. Regardless of the material used, your dentist must ensure a proper fit in order to prevent issues with bite alignment.
Crowns are commonly performed and tied to many different dental procedures ranging from dental fillings and root canal therapy, to full mouth reconstruction and smile makeover.
Dental crowns offer a durable, aesthetic solution to a number of dental concerns. If you suffer from any of the following issues, a dental crown could be the perfect solution:
- Severe dental cavity that cannot otherwise be filled due to a lack of remaining tooth structure.
- A broken or otherwise fractured tooth that cannot be fixed with dental bonding.
- Weakened tooth or teeth in need of support to prevent fracture
- Infected root canal requiring treatment
Dental crowns also play an essential role in dental bridge and implant treatment. Crowns are used to hold dental bridges in place, and they are required to cover dental implants once the natural tooth and root has been removed.
Dental crowns can be fabricated from different materials, each of which has its own pros and cons.
Porcelain crowns – These all-ceramic crowns are the most expensive option available. They are often used when a crown is required to replace one of the front teeth. Although they can be used for back teeth as well, porcelain crowns are not as durable as some of the other options and therefore may not be the optimal choice. However they offer fantastic, natural aesthetics and are an excellent option for front teeth.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns – These crowns are something of a hybrid between all-ceramic porcelain crowns and metal crowns in that the visible structure is made of porcelain, but it’s actually fused to metal, creating a stronger, more durable bond. Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are a good option for replacing molars.
Gold crowns – Gold alloy crowns are extremely durable and offer a stronger bond than porcelain, but they obviously have the con of being wholly unnatural. Although referred to as gold crowns, they are actually made from a combination of gold, copper and other metals. Unlike porcelain, gold crowns will not fracture or crack over time.
Base metal crowns – Like gold crowns, base metal crowns offer the advantage of durability over appearance. They are often comprised of various non-noble metals like cobalt-chromium and nickel-chromium. They tend to be the cheapest option and can be a solid, long-lasting solution for rear molars.
To determine which type of dental crown is best suited to your unique needs, speak with your dentist to get a better sense of their pros and cons. Chief among your considerations is how much you value natural aesthetics vs. cost savings.
Placement of a dental crown is typically performed over two dental visits. The first visit is typically the preparation and planning visit during which your dentist performs a thorough examination to determine whether or not a crown can be supported, and the best material to use.
If your damaged tooth is able to support a crown, the dentist will then prepare the tooth to support a crown by shaping it or filing it down so that it can be capped. Once the tooth is prepped, an impression is taken so that a crown can be fabricated to fit appropriately on top. The impression may be a mold of the teeth, or more often or not these days, done digitally. The impression is then sent to the lab where the crown is fabricated and a temporary restoration is placed on top of the prepped tooth until the second visit.
(If your dentist has onsite CAD/CAM equipment that essentially allows for the crown to be fabricated on site, so the entire procedure may be completed in a single visit.)
When the permanent crown is ready, your dentist will position the crown and permanently attach it using a special dental adhesive. After the procedure is completed, the crown may feel a little strange. An adjustment period is often necessary, but after a few days, it should feel and function the same as a natural tooth.
Communicate with your dentist about any discomfort you experience after treatment, or if you feel as though your bite alignment isn’t quite right. The entire procedure is relatively straightforward and typically requires little more than a local anesthetic to offset any minor pain associated with treatment.
There are a variety of factors that can impact the cost of dental crowns, including where treatment is performed (the price for a crown in a metropolis like Los Angeles or New York City is likely to be higher than it is at a suburban practice), what type of material is used, what sort of dental insurance the patient has, and whether or not any underlying dental health issues are involved (such as tooth extraction, or treatment for decay or gum disease).
Generally speaking, the cost of a single dental crown could range anywhere from $1,000 to $3,500. Porcelain crowns typically fall on the high end of the cost spectrum, whereas porcelain-fused-to-metal, metal and gold crowns tend to come in on the cheaper side.
If you’re dental crown is part of a restoration to correct damaged or diseased teeth (as opposed to cosmetic), dental insurance may cover a significant portion of the cost. Most dental practices also offer third-party financing through which patients can work out a payment plan that best fits their personal finances.
To learn more about dental crowns and the potential cost of treatment, contact a qualified dentist to schedule a consultation and undergo a thorough oral health evaluation.