So you’ve just broken a tooth. Or just had a root canal on one of your molars. Or maybe have a large cavity that hasn’t been treated yet but is covering most of the tooth. You come see us and we take a look. At this point I usually give you 3 options: we leave the tooth as it is and do nothing (which I rarely will recommend), we place a large filling, or we do a crown.
This is a fairly common scenario. A discussion I probably have once a week with patients. I go through the risks and benefits of each option and what I would recommend. Before I go further, I always ask “Does that make sense? Do you have any questions?”. The vast majority of the time the first question someone will ask is, “What kind of cost are we looking at here?”.
It’s a fair question. Dentistry isn’t cheap and once we start to deal with things such as crowns it definitely becomes more costly. And if you’re going to be having this work done it’s good to know what this will cost so you can plan accordingly.
As far as options go in this scenario, the crown is the most expensive one. It takes the most time, the most amount of visits and requires more work. Those are some pretty strong negatives. Especially when a large filling is an exact opposite – cheaper, faster, fewer appointments. So why on earth would anyone agree to a crown?
As part of my discussion with patients, I usually go into this in some depth. Here, I’m going to use some numbers that aren’t representative of what crowns and fillings actually cost at our clinic, but give you a better relative idea.
For $200 I can fix your tooth and get it functioning again for you. But, the trade-off is that this $200 is only sealing this tooth from the outside. It isn’t protecting it from breaking and if anything, a large filling actually makes the tooth more susceptible to break. “Well that’s ok, if I can get 5 years out of this and it breaks, I’ll do another one.”. The problem here is that not every broken tooth is the same. We can’t predict how teeth will break and sometimes they can break in a way that can’t be fixed (meaning the tooth needs to be removed). But let’s say that I could always repair the tooth when it breaks. As fillings get larger, the long term prognosis of the tooth goes down. This means it becomes harder for me to predict how long this tooth will go without an incident. We could be replacing this filling every 2 years (or less). So now we’re looking at $200 every 2 years for the rest of the life of the tooth (an exaggeration, but you get the idea).Now if we look at a crown. For $1000 I can fix this tooth and get it functioning again, but now it is significantly better protected against fracturing and breaking. In addition, it’s less likely to get a cavity. Not only that but if done properly the crown will last 15+ years if cared for with good oral hygiene. The fewer times I need to touch a tooth, the less likely it will need either a root canal or an extraction.
I always tell my patients when I do a large filling that I can’t make any promises about filling longevity. It is much more challenging to predict that kind of thing with a large filling. With a crown, however, I feel much more comfortable making those kinds of predictions.
So while on face value a crown is more expensive than a large filling. The value of the crown is much more than what is charged. It protects the tooth, prevents future problems with the tooth and is much more predictable.
If you’re looking for a dentist in Calgary, we’re happy to see new patients. Give West Peaks Dental Suite a call at 403-281-4264.