Getting dental crowns is one of the more expensive restorative dental procedures. Usually, crown installation is preceded by another procedure (the reason you need a crown in the first place), which drives the cost even higher. If you need crowns, therefore, you'll definitely be interested know how you can save money. Read on for a few tips and tricks on getting cheap dental crowns.

1. Leverage your other procedures

You may need a root canal, bridges or dental implants before/with your crown. If this is the case, don't be afraid to ask your dentist for a deal if they will handle all procedures. If they don't cut a good chunk off the bill, don't be afraid to shop around for better deals. Just be sure to choose a well-qualified dentist with a reputable practice, and get the quotes broken down for each procedure.

Remember that crowns require multiple appointments; negotiate a price that covers the whole procedure so that you're not charged consultation fees every visit (confirm this with the practice before the procedure).

2. Choose your crown carefully

The type of crown you choose is a major determinant of your final bill. Metal crowns are an ideal budget option, especially if you're restoring molars or premolars. As added benefits, they are also the most durable and have no risk of damaging surrounding teeth, unlike other materials.

However, metal is not ideal for restoring front teeth; porcelain and ceramic crowns are used instead. They are more expensive because they require more technical skill in reshaping and installing. Porcelain is the one that most resembles natural teeth, and it's better than ceramic as it is less prone to chipping or cracking. Ceramic poses the greatest risk of damage to the surrounding natural teeth, especially used on molars and premolars (they bear the brunt of chewing).

Another option is a porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crown. They are easier to apply, durable because of the metal underlay and aesthetically pleasing because of the porcelain overlay. However, you'll still see the metal line along the gum line, and it doesn't look as good as an all-ceramic crown. Resin crowns are cheap and resemble natural teeth, but they are not durable.

Consider your budget vis-a-vis these advantages and disadvantages before making your material choice.

3. Delay replacement

Dental crowns can last 5 to 15 years according to your dental habits and material choice. Practising good oral hygiene and avoiding bad habits like tooth grinding or biting nails is the best way to lengthen the life of your crown once installed.

Crown replacement usually costs as much as a new one and takes just as long. However, you may not need the initial procedures like contouring or tooth filing, so that will save some money. If you have minimal damage to your crown, ask your dentist if it can be repaired using dental cement.

4. Be creative

Dental schools are good for getting dental services at reduced prices. The higher risk (of using students) is mitigated by the fact that they're supervised by experienced, licensed and insured dentists. However, this should be avoided for complicated restoration procedures. You can also choose graduate schools for better service (qualified dentists specialising); the discount isn't as much, but it is still significant.

Also, some practices offer discounts if you offer to pay in cash, because they pay fees to insurers or credit card companies if you pay this way, and their money takes longer to reach them. Ask if your dentist has this option, especially if your restoration isn't covered by insurance.