How Much does a Dental Crown Cost?

In Australia, the price range for a single crown is generally $1100-$2000.

Dental crowns are expensive which ever way you look at it. The main reason for the cost being so high is that the dentist must pay a dental technician to construct the crown.

Now depending on the material used and the prices of the laboratory this can be anything from $200 for a very low-end crown to $700 for a high-end crown. When you factor in the cost of materials, equipment, staff, premises and about two hours of chair time for a single crown you begin to understand why it costs what it costs.

To give you an idea of what the dentist actually makes on a crown, take an average price of $1500, subtract from this the lab cost say $400 = $1100 and now take off 60% which is the cut that most practice owners take for providing the staff, surgery, materials etc. and the dentist is left with $440 or $220 an hour before tax. A bit different to thinking the dentist is putting $1500 in his back pocket!

For the purposes of cost there are two main item numbers:

ITEM 615- this is the item number for any crown that contains metal such as Porcelain-fused to metal crown (VMK or PFM for short) (see crown types)

The average cost from the ADA 2012 dental fees member survey for ITEM 615 was $1459

ITEM 613 -This is the item number for any crown that doesn’t contain any metal; all porcelain crowns such as LAVE, empress, emax, ZX to name the main ones.

The average cost from the ADA 2011 (2012 fee wasn’t listed) dental fees member survey for ITEM 613 was $1431

As you can see a crown without metal (613) will cost slightly more than one that has a metal substructure (615). If you decide to opt for a gold crown then given the high price of gold there may (depending on the amount of gold needed) be an additional charge. A full metal crown (be it gold or another metal) without any porcelain, just to confuse you, has a slightly different item number; ITEM 618. Thought I better mention that for completion!

Now it is important to understand that there may be other costs involved directly in having a crown. Your dentist will advise you after examining your teeth if these are necessary. You may be charged initially for:

ITEM 013 or 014– A limited examination or consultation

ITEM 022- X-rays to check underneath the tooth make sure there is no problem with the foundation or root canal treatment if you have had one.

The filling already in the tooth may be ok to act as a core, or the tooth may require a new core before having the crown. Sometimes a post and a core will be required. The item numbers for these treatments are as follows:

ITEM 627– Core (or preliminary restoration)

ITEM 625– Indirect post and core (made in the lab)

Direct post and core – (done directly in the mouth by the dentist). This has two separate parts and hence item numbers:

ITEM 597– Post

ITEM 627– Core (or preliminary restoration)

The biggest price difference will come from the actual dentist’s pricing structure, as there are no set limits on what a dentist can charge- only guidelines issued by the ADA (Australian Dental Association).

Certain health funds set fees for their specialist providers that tend to be cheaper than private dental prices. For example ‘Medibank Private’ crowns with a specialist provider cost $1350 for ITEM 615 and $1420 for ITEM 613.

Some dentists will be more expensive than others but you should never select your dentist on price alone. I would as always advise against going for the very cheapest, as you often get what you pay for, but whether very expensive crowns are justifiably better than moderately priced ones is difficult to say. It comes down to the quality of work provided by both the technician and the dentist. A happy medium with a dentist you trust is the best solution.

Anything over $1800 is in my opinion more on the expensive side, unless your crown is made by a top cosmetic dentist or prosthodontist (specialist) where I would expect a higher charge . With these dentists you can be pretty sure you are getting top notch treatment. Here you are really paying for the extra experience and training the dentist has received. The value in a crown comes in the long term when you have had it happily in place for over 20 years.

What is the Rebate on a Dental Crown?

To be able to check out of pocket expenses, you need the item numbers for any treatment you will be having. Only your dentist will be able to provide you with these after they have examined you and discussed the various treatment options and alternatives with you.

When you have this information which we often refer to as a treatment plan, you can call or go into your health fund and ask them what your rebate is on each particular item number. This way you can work out the gap and know what exactly what your ‘out of pocket’ expenses will be.