By Dr. Richard Schlossberg - Updated November 19, 2020
Crowns protect the remaining part of your teeth after your dentist fixes damage or decay. While they are incredibly important in maintaining good dental hygiene, they can also be expensive. When it comes to your oral health, you simply cannot afford to put damage or decay on the backburner. But if money is tight, what are your best next steps?
Questions like “what is a dental crown” , “how much does a dental crown cost”, and “what is a dental crown cost without insurance” are bound to arise, and we’re here to provide the insight you need to make an informed decision that puts your health first.
A dental crown is essentially a cover for a damaged or decaying tooth that restores the tooth to its natural shape, size, and strength. Crowns are typically made from porcelain, composite resin, metal alloys, or ceramics.
If your dentist recommends a crown, it is likely because you:
Without insurance, the average cost of a dental crown can vary significantly, ranging anywhere between $500 to $1,500, depending on the type of crown you need. The final cost of your crown depends on a number of variable factors. While there are a number of types and options out there, your specific needs may only be met by a select few types of crowns, which means your particular price range may be less flexible.
If you see a type of crown that’s cheaper than one your dentist recommended, keep in mind that each type of crown serves a slightly different purpose—for example, some are only temporary or only designed for baby teeth. Therefore, you may not always be able to easily substitute one kind for another.
Because crowns are traditionally recommended to patients to improve the function of a tooth and boost overall oral health, most insurance plans typically cover some or all dental crown costs.
No two procedures are exactly alike, but there are some common factors that ultimately influence your specific dental crown cost, including:
Reading about all the different types of crowns can be confusing and overwhelming. With so much information in front of you, how are you supposed to know which dental crown is best for you? Ultimately, your dentist will be best equipped to recommend the best crown for your situation and area of your mouth involved.
For a consolidated look at the many types of dental crowns out there, we’ve compiled a list of each type of dental crown.
Stainless steel crowns are used as a temporary measure for permanent and primary teeth. They are most commonly used for children’s teeth because their primary teeth will soon come out, making the stainless steel crown fall off naturally.
For metal crowns, less tooth structure needs to be removed in preparation for the crown. These crowns often last the longest and are some of the most resistant to wear and tear. They are most frequently used for back teeth, which usually remain unseen and benefit from the sturdiness of all-metal crowns.
These crowns look like normal teeth, which is a plus. However, they can have a lot of wear and tear on the opposing teeth when you bite down and chew, and the porcelain part of the crown can break off. Crowns made of porcelain and metal can be used for both front and back teeth.
All-ceramic or all-porcelain crowns are a great choice if you’d like the crown to match the natural color of your teeth. These are also a great option for individuals who are allergic to metal. Keep in mind that these can wear down on opposing teeth more than metal or resin crowns, and are more fragile than crowns supported with metal. These kinds of crowns can also have higher costs than other materials due to their more specialized nature.
All-resin dental crowns are the least expensive compared to the other types of crowns listed. However, they can wear down more quickly and fracture more easily than the crowns made of porcelain and metal. For these reasons, resin crowns are rarely a long-term solution and are usually a temporary stand-in.
Your total cost may differ because of additional procedures like building up the tooth beforehand or paying a lab to make the crown. These contribute to the stability and longevity of the crown if your tooth roots need additional support and usually range between $100 and $500 with no dental insurance.
Dentists most commonly use crowns to repair and strengthen a damaged tooth (particularly after a procedure like a root canal, or if the cavity is too deep for a filling to work). However, crowns can also be used to simply improve the appearance of a tooth, including its color, shape, or even alignment.
Typical dental insurance plans will cover many types of crowns as long as they are deemed necessary and not cosmetic. However, there are a few reasons a dental insurance plan may still not help you if you need a crown:
Many insurance policies have waiting periods of 6 months to 1 year before you are eligible for savings on crowns. Even then, the most you will usually be able to save is 50%. You will want to weigh the cost of the monthly insurance premiums plus the extended wait time for the procedure you need against what you will actually save with the insurance plan.
In addition, many insurance plans exclude pre-existing conditions, which could mean you’d still end up paying full price.
Some dental insurance plans will also only allow you to save on a replacement crown once every 5 to 7 years. If you need one sooner than that, you may still need to pay full price. Additionally, other insurance plans will only cover crowns in drastic cases or when a root canal has been performed.
Many dental insurance plans have annual limits that they will cover in one year, ranging from $1,000 to $1,500. As you saw above, that annual limit can often be easily reached with just one crown. Any other dental needs you’d have during the year would then need to be paid for out of pocket.
If you find yourself struggling to pay for the dental work you need to keep your oral hygiene in top-top shape and your smile bright and healthy, 1Dental’s dental savings plans can help. These plans are designed to save you money on your dental care needs. Between taking advantage of no deductibles, co-pays, or long waiting periods, you can go through with your necessary procedures without worry of any severe financial consequences.
See the table below to compare average crown costs in your area without insurance compared to costs with the Careington Care 500 dental savings plan. These prices are for procedures done by general dentists. If you need to see a specialist, we recommend adding the Dental Access Plan (powered by the Aetna Dental Access network) which provides better savings at specialists. Our Preferred Plan includes both networks for the most flexibility and highest savings overall.
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Dr. Richard Schlossberg served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Dental Corps and then returned to his hometown of Baltimore to open a private family practice. Since selling his practice of 44 years, he has taught at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, worked in several Maryland private dental practices and kept up his membership with multiple dental associations.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional dental advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist with any questions you may have regarding your oral health.
"I saved $994 off the price of a crown with the Care 500 plan recently. In fact just about everything is 1/2 off..."
- Patricia, TX
"...I needed a crown and a deep periodontal disease cleaning... Almost everyone was quoting me about $3,000...but with the 500 plan...my total cost was less than $1,700."
- Wallace G, AL
"Signed up for 1dental the same day a crown fell out. Was covered... saved more than 50% on the services. Recommending the plan to our family."
- Rita O.