How Long Do Crowns Last? Types & Influences

How Long Do Crowns Last? Types & Influences
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How Long Do Crowns Last? Types & InfluencesMedically Reviewed by
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Table of Contents

  1. Dental Crown Longevity & Durability
  2. Insurance vs Out-of-Pocket Cost
  3. Necessity of Crowns
  4. References

Dental crowns are made from various materials, some of which last longer than others. While insurance covers about half the cost of crowns, some materials are more expensive.

Dental crowns will last for many years as long as you care for them with good oral hygiene at home and maintain regular dentist visits. At some point, you will need to have a crown replaced.

Dental Crown Material Affects Longevity & Durability

There are several materials that can be used to make dental crowns, which can affect the price and the longevity of the crown.

Base Metal Amalgam

This type of crown is one of the most durable. The color does not match natural teeth, so it will typically be used on back teeth.

Metal alloy dental crowns withstand regular wear and tear, including teeth grinding or bruxism. They rarely chip and can last for decades. One medical survey found that an amalgam dental crown could last for 22.5 years on average.

Gold

This type of metal does not match the natural color of teeth, although some people intentionally ask for gold crowns for cosmetic reasons. Like base metal alloys, they are rarely used on front teeth unless the client specifically asks for it.

Gold is a durable metal, which is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Gold dental crowns often last more than 10 years.

Ceramic or Porcelain

These crowns almost perfectly match the natural color of teeth, and they are often used for front teeth that need support or replacement. While porcelain and ceramic are exceptionally durable materials, they are brittle. They can chip or crack, and they might irritate or wear down surrounding teeth.

Composite resins, one type of crown in this group, can last for about 10 years. Glass ionomer cements, another type of ceramic or porcelain, can last about 5 years.

Porcelain Fused to Metal (PFM)
This is the most commonly recommended type of crown, combining the strength and durability of metal alloy with the natural color of porcelain. Although the manufacturing process fuses the porcelain onto the metal, these crowns are still made from two different substances. Porcelain is still more prone to fractures than metal, so these crowns can become unstable or discolored more easily than metal alone. However, PFM crowns often last more than 10 years with good care.
Resin or Stainless Steel
Both resin and stainless steel crowns are considered to be temporary. Both types are only used in children to manage baby teeth that have fallen out early, suffered damage, or require significant fillings for cavities. The material only needs to last as long as the natural baby tooth would, until the adult tooth is ready to grow in.
New Materials
New types of ceramic like e.max and zirconia have the natural appearance offered by porcelain or older ceramics, with the durability of metal. Still, there is a wide range of survival rates for these materials, with e.max (lithium disilicate) having the highest chance of surviving more than 10 years, and zirconia surviving about 5 years, on average.
Depending on the material, the amount of tooth structure remaining, your oral hygiene and your bite strength, dental crowns may last 5 to 15 years.
Other factors go into the longevity of dental crowns, including how well you take care of them, whether you struggle with dental issues like teeth clenching or grinding, your diet, how your dentist implanted the crown, and what type of condition the underlying tooth is in. If the underlying tooth is gone, another influencing factor is whether the dental implant is secure.

Insurance, Out-of-Pocket Cost & Your Choices for Dental Crowns

A dental crown is typically a medically necessary device, so your dental insurance should cover about half the cost. This is a normal breakdown for dental insurance in the United States, which cover 100 percent of annual preventative care like cleanings, 80 percent of some care like fillings or extractions, and half of more high-level treatment like crowns, bridges, and inlays.

The cost of dental crowns varies greatly on the material used. Newer materials like e.max and zirconia are more expensive, while traditional materials like metal and ceramic are less expensive.

Metal alloy is the least expensive option, ranging from $600 to $2,500 per tooth. Gold is typically more expensive, around $1,000 or more. PFM crowns are the most common and cost around $500 to $1,500 per tooth, while all porcelain or ceramic costs from $800 to $3,000. Although porcelain is one of the more expensive materials, it is one of the less durable, so you will pay more for this type of crown over your lifetime, as you pay for more replacements.

The Necessity of Crowns

A crown is a cap that goes over a dental implant, root canal, or damaged tooth that helps to protect the area, create the function of a natural tooth, and restore your smile. Dental crowns are very common appliances in American adults.

In fact, by 17 years old, about 7 percent of people in the US have lost at least one adult tooth. By 50 years old, the average American adult has lost an average of 12 teeth, including their wisdom teeth. This means that millions of adults in the United States have at least one dental crown.

Crowns are widely used by dental professionals not only to improve the appearance of teeth, but also to maintain good oral health. Putting a crown over a damaged or discolored tooth can keep it safe from further decay or enamel wear. A crown on top of a tooth that has had a root canal protects the filling and restores shape, so the tooth fits into your natural bite properly. If you lose a tooth, a crown will be put on top of a dental implant to recreate a natural tooth.

Your dentist can help you decide on the best option for materials to suit your needs, but you can factor cost and insurance coverage into the choice as well. Ultimately, choosing the balance of natural appearance and durability means you pay less over time.

References

Did You Know That by Age 50 Americans Have Lost an Average of 12 Teeth? Boston Magazine. Date fetched: May 16, 2021.

Crowns. Mouth Healthy, from the American Dental Association. Date fetched: May 16, 2021.

Dental Crowns. (May 2021). MedlinePlus. Date fetched: May 16, 2021.

Different Types of Dental Crowns. Colgate. Date fetched: May 16, 2021.

Does Dental Insurance Cover Crowns? (August 2020). Investopedia. Date fetched: May 16, 2021.

How Much Does a Dental Crown Cost? Health.CostHelper. Date fetched: May 16, 2021.

The Longevity of Restorations – A Literature Review. (October 2015). The Journal of the Dental Association of South Africa.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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