6 things to consider when having a dental crown made.

#1 - There is no single "best" type of crown.

No one type of dental crown offers the best solution for all dental applications. Before you make a decision, quiz your dentist about the different (types of crowns). Let them guide you into choosing the one that is best suited for your needs and circumstances.

#2 - At least consider a gold crown. They make an excellent choice for back teeth.

A gold dental crown.

If cosmetic appearance is not a factor, nothing can beat a gold crown.

  • Gold crowns provide excellent service. - All-metal crowns are the strongest, most durable type of dental cap. Because they are solid metal, there is nothing to chip off. Likewise, they don't crack or break.
  • Gold dental crowns are very biocompatible. - While exceptionally durable, gold crowns won't wear down opposing teeth (like porcelain-surfaced crowns can).

The only disadvantage of gold caps is their color. But if they don't show (like when placed on teeth way in the back) this isn't a drawback.

Need more details? Visit our Gold Crowns page.

An all-ceramic dental crown.

#3 - The great advantage of all-porcelain crowns is their beauty.

The big advantage of having porcelain (all-ceramic) dental crowns placed is that they create an exceedingly life-like end result. So, in those situations where cosmetic considerations are of a great concern, all-porcelain crowns make an excellent choice.

The disadvantage of all-ceramic crowns is lower strength and greater cost.

The trade-off associated with all-ceramic crowns is one of strength and cost.

Even though modern ceramics have been developed that are much stronger than dental porcelains of the past, no all-ceramic crown posses the strength of an all-metal or porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crown. And they usually cost around 10 to 20% more.

All-porcelain dental crowns can make an excellent choice, but only for selected situations.

Ceramic crowns can make a great choice for upper front teeth, where cosmetic appearance is a major concern. However, when considered for molars, bicuspids, or lower front teeth, their risk of fracture and higher cost may make other types of crowns a better choice.

Need more details? Visit our Porcelain Crowns page.

#4 - Porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crowns provide a middle ground between all-metal and all-ceramic caps.

A porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crown.

The construction of porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns (PFM's) is one where an overlying surface of porcelain is fused onto an underlying thimble of metal. This makeup allows PFM crowns to offer many of the benefits of both all-metal and all-ceramic crowns.

  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are very strong. - While not as strong as all-metal crowns, dentist's routinely place PFM caps on back teeth.
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns can produce pleasing aesthetics. - While not as translucent, the cosmetic appearance of PFM crowns can often approach, and possibly equal, those of all-porcelain caps.

PFM crowns do have some disadvantages.

PFM crowns do have some shortcomings that may come into play in some situations:
1) If the tooth's gum line recedes, the crown's underlying metal edge may show and spoil the tooth's appearance. (An important concern with front teeth.) 2) Unless proper protocol is followed when the bite of a PFM crown is adjusted, its porcelain surface may wear opposing teeth. 3) Portions of the crown's porcelain covering may fracture off.

Need more details? Visit our Porcelain-fused-to-metal Crowns page.

#5 - Make sure you know what your costs for your dental crown will be.

You can expect a dental crown (PFM or all-metal) to cost in the neighborhood of $700 to $1300, with all-ceramic crowns costing about 10 to 20% more. (Cost estimates for dental caps. - By type.)

If dental insurance coverage is involved ...

It's common for a dental plan to cover 50% of the cost of a crown, minus the plan's deductible. As an example, for a $1000 crown you might estimate that a plan with a $100 deductible would pay $400. [If you're concerned about costs, have your dentist file a "predetermination of benefits." In response, the insurance company will report the amount of coverage they will provide for your planned work.]

Common dental plan exclusions: 1) Not paying to replace any crown that is less than 5 years old. 2) No coverage for crowns that are placed just for purely cosmetic purposes. However, ask your dentist on this point. The crown you think is strictly cosmetic in nature may serve other (covered) purposes as well.

If you're paying for your dental crown out-of-pocket and its cost is a bit of an expense ...

Ask if you can arrange to pay half of your crown's cost now and half later, possibly even stretching the second half over a couple of payments. This arrangement can provide a way where your dentist can cover their immediate costs, yet help to accommodate your financial needs too.

Need more details? Visit our Dental Crown Costs page.

#6 - Make sure you understand why your tooth really needs a dental crown.

Dental crowns serve many important functions but if your tooth does not require one then other types of dental restorations make a better choice.

1) There are other ways to rebuild teeth.

Your dentist might be able to place a dental filling as opposed to a crown. And although crowns are often placed after root canal treatment, not all teeth require them. If a tooth truly needs a dental crown, there are no good alternatives but there are some alternative approaches to having a crown placed.

2) There are other ways to improve the cosmetic appearance of teeth.

If it's just a change in appearance that's needed, porcelain veneers may provide a less invasive way to accomplish the same cosmetic end result. In some situations, just placing tooth bonding may suffice.

In some situations, a second opinion can be a good idea.

If your new dentist suggests several crowns (while your previous dentist never did), or if your current dentist seems to solve every problem by placing one, a second opinion may be in order. It's expected that dentists' opinions will vary. However, over-diagnosing the need for crowns can be hard on your pocketbook and bad for your teeth. When in doubt, consider seeking a second opinion.


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