Pond Square Dental
How much does a (dental) crown cost?
Blog /Advice /News

How much does a (dental) crown cost?

Knowing and understanding the cost of a dental crowns is a key part of a decision making process regarding your dental health and well being.

We're making decisions all the time, most of them at a subconscious level. To make these decisions we need information. Much of the information we are able to build directly from our experiences and observations. Some of the information needs to be actively sought out.

When deciding on how to invest in your dental health, you may look at a number of factors - the way a place looks, smells, how clean it is, the staff, equipment, qualifications and experience of the clinicians, and so on.

One of or perhaps the the most important item of information when making a purchase is the cost. How much does a crown cost? You need to be given this information, though it is available on our website, our consent forms, our treatment reports or letters, the true cost of a crown can be quite hard to answer.

Usually we give a range of fees. £1200 - £1600 (perhaps more) fo a single crown. That's quite a wide range. Why such a difference in the possible costs? Why does the cost vary within a dental practice, and between dental practices?

The cost of a crown is dependent on several factors, which can be broken down into two broad categories - the cost of producing the crown, and the cost of preparing for and fitting the crown.

The cost of producing a dental crown, and a little bit of background too

A large determinant of cost is the dental technician, the type of crown and materials used, and how much time is required to produce the crown. There are many different materials to make dental crowns, and there are different manufacturing processes.

Ceramic, a material that is so well able to mimic some of the optical properties of teeth, is increasing used as the material of choice for dental crowns. This material or group of materials comes in a huge range. The type of material has an effect on the properties: more translucent, less translucent, stronger, better fitting, adhesive, not adhesive, veneered or not, and so on. There is a wide range of factors to consider, and the dentist and technician need to be able to review the specifics of each case to make the correct decision as to what type of material should be used. At the front of the mouth, clearly a more aesthetic outcome is needed, and, at the back of the mouth, a more robust option is required.

One type of ceramic material will have many different manufacturers, and each manufacturer may provide several different versions of the same material. The material may be altered to change the optical properties, or the strength, the precision of the fit, and the level of wear placed on an opposing natural tooth. The production protocols may be vastly different, from requiring minimal effort to a labour intensive, detailed production process.

The material may be provided as a single piece of ceramic, or there may be a veneered layer placed on top - this is the most aesthetic, and requires time, skill and a high level of experience and artistry. The single piece of ceramic may be pressed (from a wax pattern), injection moulded (from a wax pattern) or milled using CADCAM. The first two materials - pressed and injection moulded require far more work than a milled crown, and the pressed and injection moulded crowns have far greater strength. All three versions may be cut back and veneered with highly aesthetic veneering porcelain. So you may be told you are being given a certain type of crown at two different dental practices, for example e.Max, or zirconia, but there is a great deal of variation, not just between manufacturers but also between the different crowns they offer, and effectively, though the trade name may be similar, the actual specifics of the crown may vary greatly, and that reflects in the cost.

Some dental technicians will not have the space, or simply not be able to afford or willing to invest in much of the expensive range of machinery required to produce certain types of ceramic crowns and finishes, and this will limit what they can produce. Similarly, those that do invest in a greater range of machinery, will be able to cater for specific needs, and will also charge more for their services.

Some materials simply cost much more than others. An easy example is gold. Dental gold comes in several different guises, Type 1, 2 3 and 4, all ISO standardised in the minimum quantity of gold, and some of the other materials present in the alloy. The amount of gold in the different types of alloy varies, and so the cost varies, but so do the properties. A very high gold ratio (Type 1) fits very precisely, but is quite soft, not suitable in some circumstances. A lower gold ratio doesn't fit quite as neatly (though better than any other crown material) but is also quite hard. So Type 1 gold may be suitable for a smaller restoration, Type 2 and 3 gold are better for a conventional crown, and Type 4 gold will serve better as a bridge. The cost of the gold per unit weight is another factor in the cost of the restoration - a small onlay (protecting the cusps of the tooth) will require less weight of gold, where as a full crown or a bridge will have a much higher weight of gold, and so the cost increases. Gold may be printed or laser sintered these days, though traditionally it is prepared in a 'lost wax' technique - a lot of time and detail is required to make a gold crown. Even with a printed crown, the material needs to be finished in a process that takes more time than many other types of crown, which may simply be put into a furnace and processed in a glazing cycle (to make the crown shiny and less porous).

It follows, that the cost of the material varies, and the handling and manufacture protocol of the material varies, and this means the fee charged will vary. You may be quoted for a crown, perhaps even the same type of ceramic crown at one dental practice, and the cost varies considerably to another dental practice - on the surface the materials are the same, but one may be weaker, less well finished, and less aesthetic or long lasting, and the other may be stronger, finished to the highest specs, very aesthetic and (probably) much longer longer lasting.

Can you spot the two ceramic crowns?

The impact of preparation and fitting of a crown on the cost

Another factor in the cost of the crown is dependent on the clinic, the clinician and the patient.

In some cases, making a crown is a fairly simple process. In other cases there may be a huge number of factors to take into consideration, and these factors will determine how easy it is for the dentist to operate. Many crowns may be required, and that will take longer, with more planning required. Each patient's ability to tolerate treatment will be different, and this will mean the dentist's ability to work will vary accordingly. These factors influence the time required to complete preparatory work, and the longer the preparation takes, the more costly that process becomes.

Other considerations may lie in the dentist's protocols. The type, and number of drills and drill bits used, the checks undertaken during the process, and the materials and hardware required to undertake those checks.

There are several different types of drills can be used to prepare a tooth for a crown. All spin at different speeds, and provide different levels of control. There is variation in the quality of these drills - inter and intra manufacturer variation. Some manufacturers produce higher quality, more precise drills. Within those drills, there can be different sizes, allowing flexibility in using the drill - some are more powerful, some are smaller and are used where a person has difficulty in opening their mouth. The way the drill works, with the amount of water that passes through it also effects the reaction from the tooth, and the possibility of needing further treatment such as a root filling.

There are also several different types of drill bits that can be used. The nature of those drills has a significant effect on the finish of the preparatory work.

If a crown is beautifully prepared, with smooth, clearly identifiable edges, the crown fit and appearance will no doubt be better than a coarsely finished crown with edges that a technician may not be able to visualise.

We use the best quality, top of the range drills, from the or one of the few best manufacturers. We have a number of different sizes of drills, and our dental chairs are highly programmable to provide different spin levels, torque, and water spray.

We use the best quality drill bits, with a range of finishes available. That means we are able to finish the preparatory work to a high level, but also we are able to do this in many different scenarios.

A final factor in the pricing of the crown must be the operator (dentist's) skill level and experience, and the time allotted for the preparation and fitting work. We make sure we have ample time for preparatory procedures, and are never rushed in the process.

Other factors that can effect the cost of treatment for a tooth due to be restored with a crown

Though not directly coming under the cost of the crown, there may be additional costs, such as a core or body of filling (£390 - £490), or a post and core (£490 - £550), a root filling (£950 - £1450), perhaps an investigation fee, or x-rays. or other adjunctive treatments, such as crown lengthening. These can be hidden factors when restoring a tooth with a crown that only come to light during or after (!) the process. We make sure we run through the risks of the treatment before we have started up.

Summary

As with all things, prices for crowns vary greatly. We cannot explain specific dental practices’ fees, but we hope this article goes some way to helping you understand why fees vary. Some practices may charge more, some less, and that should be based on what they hope to achieve, how they go about their work, and the quality of their tools, materials and skills.

Our ethos is based around quality - quality of service, quality of work. This potentially, and often usually, involves several layers of additional factors in our dental practice that cause the cost of crowns to vary. We are upfront about these costs, and happy to discuss them. So how much does a crown cost? - that depends, but as a general guide, £1200 - £1600 per tooth (as of September 2023).

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