Dental crowns are often misunderstood. Misunderstood because most dentists do not explain them very well, and costly because insurance companies typically do not cover more than 50 percent of the cost. Crowns are also known as “caps”, but that term is somewhat antiquated.
A dental crown is a permanent covering for a tooth. They can vary in construction material from all metal to porcelain fused to metal, all resin, or all porcelain/ceramic. They all have their advantages and drawbacks. All metal crowns are the strongest and longest lasting, but don’t have the most attractive. Porcelain fused to metal is a popular choice, because they generally look good, and are strong as well. All-resin crowns are the cheapest option, but they are also the weakest.
Most dental crowns are fabricated by a specialized professional, hence the high costs involved. Not to mention, they are often secured by a high-quality metal such as Platinum, or Gold.
There are machine-made crowns, but they are often not recommended as they only generally approximate a mouth, causing small junctures where food and bacteria can proliferate. Crowns are also expensive because their design and installation require multiple dental visits. First, an impression must be made (so that the crown will fit), and at this time, the tooth is prepared for the crown by adding a post or shaping the tooth. After tooth prep, a temporary crown is fitted to keep the tooth clean. Then, when the crown is finished, the patient returns, and the “temp” is replaced with the real crown, which is cemented in.
Although dental crowns can be fitted for cosmetic reasons, they are often a last ditch attempt, “save the tooth” procedure, Thomas P. Connelly, D.D.S., remarks. Connelly suggests that there are more reasons to get a crown than merely to “save a tooth”:
- – To strengthen a tooth that has/had a very large (and usually old) filling.
- – To repair a tooth that has a very large cavity.
- – To anchor a bridge.
- – To protect a tooth that had a root canal.
In many of these instances, the “need” for the crown is not overly obvious. For example, we’re used to getting fillings for cavities. But for very large cavities, longevity is greater with a crown, as big fillings can fall out if there is not enough of the tooth left to support them.
Often, dentists and prosthodontists who recommend crowns are perceived as money-grubbing, especially since there is no shortage of dentists that will perform unnecessary procedures for profit.
However, the key to any successful healthcare relationship is trust. “At TM Prosthodontics, we pride ourselves by always looking out for the best interests of our patients. We realize that finances play a pivotal role in determining if certain procedures are viable, but we never allow our business interests to persuade our clients to a specific outcome. We’re here for them,” remarked Tal Morr, Prosthodontist and director at TM Prosthodontics in Aventura, FL.