Dental Crowns

Your Guide to Top-Quality, Affordable Dentistry

Dental crowns are a common dental procedure used to cover a tooth that is worn, broken, or decayed. The crown can be made of porcelain, metal, or both. It is fabricated in a laboratory to the dentist’s specifications and then cemented into place, so that it fully covers the tooth at and above the gum line. A dental filling (adding dental material to a tooth) can be used to repair a damaged tooth or reform the shape of a tooth, but the results may not prove as durable or aesthetically pleasing as a crown.

Why It Works for Medical Tourism | Planning Ahead | Accreditation and Certification | Dental Tourism Do's and Don'ts

Why It Works for Medical Tourism

If you need only one crown, you likely won’t save money traveling, but you may choose to do so anyway. Some global patients have established satisfactory relationships with out-of-country dentists and wouldn’t dream of having their dental work done elsewhere. Others take a "might-as-well-as" approach to dental care: If they plan to visit a country for business or pleasure, why not save a little money on dental care at the same time?

If a large number of crowns are anticipated, cost savings become an important consideration. A single porcelain crown costs from US$600 to US$3,100 in the US. Savings in Mexico and Thailand can be as much as 60 percent. In Costa Rica and Malaysia, the average savings is 65 percent.

Planning Ahead

Getting a crown is a process. First, the dentist takes an impression of the tooth and sends instructions to the lab that will make the crown. Then the site of the tooth is prepared and a temporary crown is placed over it until the permanent crown is ready. Be sure to ask your dentist how long it will take to create the permanent crown. Some dentists have labs onsite and promise very quick results. If your dentist uses an offsite lab, it can take several days or weeks before the permanent crown is ready to be positioned.

If you’re planning to travel for a crown, make sure your schedule can accommodate two or more trips to the dentist. Also, verify that your dentist’s schedule matches your travel plans, and allow plenty of recovery time, especially if you are having several crowns done at once.

Accreditation and Certification

Non-US dentists practicing abroad can apply for affiliate membership in the American Dental Association (ADA). Such membership is available to dentists who are practicing in a country other than the United States and who do not have an active US dental license.

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) runs an accreditation program that serves professionals practicing in the US and abroad. Applicants for accreditation complete a rigorous credentialing process that includes a written examination, oral examination, and peer review of clinical cases.

Dental Tourism Do's and Don'ts

  • Do make sure you check and understand the specifics of your dental insurance plan. Some plans cover full or partial costs for crowns. Find out how your coverage is affected if you travel for dental care.
  • Do ask about lower cost alternatives. For example, a decayed tooth can be repaired with an expensive crown or an inexpensive filling. If the latter is as good as the former in your judgment, then save some money and opt for the more affordable choice.
  • Do ask for a cost estimate in writing. Although the estimate may change once the dentist is able to review your needs in person, it is important to have an agreed upon point of departure.
  • Dentistry can be painful, especially if you compress a lot of work into a short period of time. If you are highly sensitive to pain, do discuss pain management with your dentists—both at home and out-of-country.
  • Do ask if all your work can be done in one trip; your savings decline if you have to travel twice.
  • Do ask about compatibility of any parts or materials used. Standard dental practices, supplies, and equipment vary among countries. Incompatibilities can create problems for follow-up care at home.
  • Do remember to request x-rays, estimates, test results, and other documentation to share with your at-home dentist so you don’t have to pay for more later. Most will supply you x-rays in digital format. Ask for jpg files.
  • Do ask for patient references. A successful practice should be more than happy to share positive outcomes.
  • Don’t fall for showy websites. Find out about your clinic’s good standing and accreditation, as well as your dentist's training, credentials, board certification, and experience.
  • Last updated on 2 August 2011