Author: Dr. Don Goudy
I am Doctor Don Goudy and I have been a dentist for almost 20 years. I run a practice in San Jose, California. As part of that practice, I am the dentist for the San Jose Sharks. GO SHARKS!
Recently, I was reading an article on Yahoo titled “Is Your Dentist Ripping You Off?” http://shine.yahoo.com/event/financiallyfit/is-your-dentist-ripping-you-off-2476643/ which basically talked about the differing prices for the same procedures in the dental offices in a local area. The author was quoted a range of $797 to $1395 for a crown and couldn’t really understand why such a huge discrepancy. She asked the American Dental Association and a spokesperson had one basic thing to say: “Ask the dentist to explain the differences in their fees”. I find it odd, to say the least, that the American Dental Association could not be more enlightening on the subject of crowns, but as that appears to be the case, allow me to explain why your dentist is probably not ripping you off just because he has a different price structure than the dentist down the street.
Not all crown types are the same price. It’s the old apples and oranges comparison which can mean huge differences in fees. There are two basic types of crowns:
1. Cemented crowns, the old fashioned kind usually made from gold alloy or a metal porcelain combination, are much easier to fabricate and install. They take much less chair-side time and less material expense. Many times a 20+ year old mercury filling is left under the brand new crown (Yuk!).
2. Bonded crowns, usually made of all –porcelain and are sealed to the tooth with an adhesive. This increases the chair-time quite a bit, plus they add a bunch of expensive chemicals to the mix. They are usually more expensive for good reason. The biggest advantage is less healthy tooth structure removed (about 50% less), they tend not to bother the gums because they are much easier to keep clean, and there is a decrease in the likelihood of needing a root canal in the future.
A dentist cannot, or should not, leave old decayed filling material under a crown. Some might do that, and charge less money. This might seem like a savings, but in the long run, it is not. Other things to consider: office quality, materials quality, location, cleanliness, staff, experience, training, everything from the beginning to the end of the appointment process has to be looked at and judged. It might sound trite to say that “you get what you pay for”, but it is true. And those are your teeth, the only ones you are ever going to get. They help feed you, they make you look great, and they keep you healthy. Treat them right.