Q: In a previous article your answer implied that there are differences in the quality between caps. Can you explain?
A: Yes, you are exactly right. It was not just implied, it was stated. Unfortunately, there is a misconception when it comes to this part of dentistry.
To put it simply, dental care and treatment is like anything else in life, you get exactly what you pay for.
Let’s use cars as an example. If you are in the market for a car you have many, many cars from which to choose. You can purchase a Volkswagen, a Mercedes, a BMW or even a Bentley depending on your finances. However, what you cannot do is purchase that BMW for the same price as the Volkswagen.
Most people understand there is a difference between the prices of cars but have difficulty understanding that these same differences exist in dentistry.
Most dentists set their fees in a similar manner. If you find a significant cost difference between one office and another there is usually a difference in the product or service and sometimes both.
There are many factors that can affect the quality of the treatment performed. This is because most services are customized solely for your mouth or tooth. This can affect the cost. This means that the choice of materials, laboratories and even the patients individual esthetic concerns enter into play when discussing quality vs. cost.
Unlike the past, today dozens of options exist for the type of crown we choose. Each option has a different fee. A more expensive lab technician may make a crown in multiple layers so it more closely resembles a natural tooth than a cap. This type of lab technician will finalize their work under a microscope to ensure the most precise fit possible. This type of work is labor intensive and time consuming. Though they may produce a smaller number of crowns per day the quality is infinitely higher.
A less expensive lab will not be able to take this type of time and effort. Their focus is on mass production which results in a less esthetic, lower quality product that looks more like a cap. The compromise in quality adversely affects the longevity of the crown once it is placed in the mouth. The average longevity of this type of crown is approximately 5-7 years.
A better lab that takes the time to make a high quality crown will have much longer longevity and can be expected to last 25 to 30 years.
It is interesting to note that dental insurance companies will pay to replace crowns after about five years because they know that that is about how long they will last.
The seemingly lower cost is only that way up front, it becomes much more costly in the long run. Some offices do only high end work, some only do only lower end work. Only a small percentage of offices offer the whole range.
I hope this has been of help. I understand that it can be confusing but just remember that it’s like anything else, you get what you pay for.
Questions can be sent to Fred Eck, D.D.S. at Marco Dental Care, 950 N. Collier Blvd., Suite 305, Marco Island, or call 389-9400. Web site: marcodentalcare.com. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Detroit Mercy and is licensed by the Florida State Board of Dentistry.