How much do dental crowns cost? / Does insurance cover them? -

Price estimates for  1) Gold,  2) All-porcelain (ceramic) and  3) Porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) dental crowns. / Details about insurance coverage and benefits for this procedure.

How much will your crown cost?
  • This page provides price estimates for dental crowns ("caps") according to type: 1) Gold (all-metal),  2) Porcelain (all-ceramic) and  3) Porcelain-fused-to-metal.
  • It also explains stipulations and conditions that can affect dental insurance coverage for this procedure.
Take your dentist's advice.

As you'll see below, while the cost for each type of crown is different, their prices don't vary drastically.

That means if your dentist feels that the construction or appearance of one kind will create a better looking, better fitting or more durable final restoration, then for the relatively small cost difference involved, it's probably a great idea to follow their recommendation.

[If you'd like more information about the different types of crowns (advantages, disadvantages, applications, pictures), use this link.

a) Fees for porcelain crowns -

  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crown (precious metal).

        $810.00 - $1450.00
        Low fee = Small rural city or town.
        High fee = Large metropolitan area.

  • (How did we come up with this estimate?)

    Other terms that apply- PFM, porcelain-fused-to-gold, PFG

  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crown (non-precious metal).   (Note #1)

        $760.00 - $1275.00

  • Other terms that apply- PFM

  • All-ceramic dental crown.

        $820.00 - $1520.00

  • Other terms (and brand names) that apply- porcelain jacket, Procera®, Empress®, CEREC®, Obsidian®, Lava®, In-Ceram®, zirconia, BruxZir®, IPS emax®

b) Fees for all-metal crowns -

  • Gold dental crown / All-metal dental crown - precious metal.   (Notes #2 & 3)

        $740.00 - $1390.00

  • Other terms that apply- White-gold crowns

  • All-metal dental crown - non-precious metal.   (Notes #2 & 3)

        $650.00 - $1210.00

Notes and comments:

Note #1: Porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crowns can be fabricated using any one of a number of different dental alloys. Based on their composition, these metals are categorized as: 1) Precious (high noble),  2) Semi-precious (noble) or  3) Non-precious (base or non-noble). (Use this link for more details about dental alloys.)

  • In general, dental alloys having higher precious metal content offer advantages during the fabrication and crown-seating process. And for this reason are preferred.

    Reasons not to choose a precious alloy are typically only based on cost, or limitations imposed by the patient's dental insurance plan (see below).

  • In terms of the patient's experience (appearance, function, longevity), crowns made using any one of the types of alloys should be similar, although every dentist will have their own distinct opinion in regard to this matter.

Note #2: All-metal dental crowns are also classified according to the type of dental alloy from which they are fabricated (see alloys link above).

  • From the standpoint of patient experience, any type of all-metal crown can be expected to provide similar service in terms of function and longevity.
  • There are, however, advantages associated with precious alloys in regard to crown fabrication and placement (see link above). And for this reason are typically considered to be the preferred choice.
  • A decision against a noble alloy is usually based on cost or limitations dictated by a patient's dental plan.

Note #3: Dental alloys vary in color. For example, they can be either gold or "white" (silver-colored). Among gold alloys, the metal's tint can range from deep-yellow to pale gold. If the appearance of your all-metal crown is important to you, you must discuss this issue with your dentist before it is made.

How much does your dentist pay for a crown?

In the vast majority of cases, a dentist doesn't actually make the crowns they place. Instead they send an impression of their patient's tooth to a dental laboratory where it's restoration is then custom fabricated by a technician.

While your dentist's actual cost for your crown may seem small when compared to the amount you end up paying, keep in mind that it only comprises a portion of their total expenses when performing this procedure for you.

Estimates of dental laboratory fees for dental crowns: (Your dentist's cost.)

  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal (precious metal)  -  $135.00 to $155.00
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal (non-precious metal)  -  $80.00 to $120.00
  • All-metal (precious metal/gold alloy)  -  $145.00 to $165.00
  • All-metal (non-precious metal)  -  $55.00 to $65.00
  • All-ceramic (e.g. IPS e.max, zirconia)  -  $100.00 to $150.00

The fee for precious-metal/gold crowns will tend to fluctuate regularly according to current precious metal prices, and will likely vary by the actual weight of the restoration.

Selling old dental crowns.

Old dental restorations frequently have precious-metal content, and if they do they have value. Any dental work that's taken out of your mouth is yours and it should be given to you.

This link provides information about selling scrap dental restorations.

Does dental insurance cover crowns?

Your plan very well may provide benefits for dental crown placement but you'll have to check your policy to know for sure. "Lesser" plans may not.

a) Insurance details.

This procedure typically falls under the classification of "major" dental services. As such, when coverage is provided it's fairly common for a plan's benefits to cover 1/2 of the crown's (UCR) fee.

To receive full benefits, the policy's deductible must have been met. Your plan may also have a maximum amount of benefits that will be paid (typically on a per year basis).

b) Possible policy restrictions.

Dental plans sometimes have limitations associated with this procedure.

  • Types of crowns allowed - A plan may place a restriction on the type of crown placed. For example, they may limit the type of material used in the crown's construction (i.e. precious metal crowns, see above). Or they may not provide coverage for the placement of all-ceramic crowns on back teeth.
  • Placement must be justified - Your dentist may have to submit documentation (x-rays, clinical notes) explaining why a crown is needed. This way the insurance company has evidence that another (likely less expensive) procedure wouldn't have sufficed (i.e. a dental filling). They'll also want to know that the crown wasn't placed just for cosmetic reasons.
  • Wait periods - New policy holders may find that they have a wait period before crowns are covered. For example, there may not be coverage for the plan's first 12 months.
  • Age restrictions - Benefits for this procedure may be limited to persons age 16 years and over. It's common that a dentist will want to wait until this age or later before placing a permanent crown anyway, due to age-related growth issues.
  • Replacement intervals. - An insurance plan may not provide coverage for a replacement crown if it had provided benefits for the existing one within a certain time period. 5 years is a common time frame, although it may be longer.

c) Preauthorization

Preauthorizing a procedure is the process where the dentist collects all relevant information, and then submits it to the insurance company so to let them know what treatment is planned. The company then reviews the information and responds by stating what they expect they will provide as coverage.

Ask your dentist's office if this step is needed. It isn't always. But in situations where plan questions exist and a significant cost is involved, doing so can help to avoid surprises.

d) Working around maximum-benefits limitations.

It's common for a dental plan to have a clause that outlines the maximum benefits it will pay per policy year. And when multiple crowns are needed, this limit can be reached quickly.

Ask your dentist about the timing of your policy year and how your treatment can be planned around it. For example, you might have crowns placed in late December and early January. Doing so might satisfy the conditions of your policy, yet all of your work is still completed within a compact time frame.



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