How Long Do Crowns Last? Types & Influences
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Table of Contents
- Types of Crowns
- How Material Affects Longevity & Durability
- Overall Longevity
- Insurance vs Out-of-Pocket Cost
- Necessity of Crowns
Dental crowns will last for many years, as long as you care for them with good oral hygiene at home and maintain regular dentist visits. At some point, you will need to have a crown replaced.
Dental crowns are made from various materials, some of which last longer than others. While insurance covers about half the cost of crowns, some materials are more expensive.
|Crown material||How long will it approximately last?||Durability|
|Base metal amalgam||22.5 years||Very durable; often used on back teeth because color stands out|
|Gold||10+ years||Durable and non-allergenic; usually used on back teeth although some request on front teeth for trending style|
|Ceramic and porcelain||Composite resins may last 10+ years; glass ionomer cements may last about 5 years||Very durable but brittle, which can lead to cracks and damage; often used on front teeth for premium teeth-matching|
|Porcelain fused to metal (PFM)||10+ years with good care||Combines durability of metal with color-matching of porcelain; may still be prone to breaking and staining|
|Resin or stainless steel||Temporary; used for children’s baby teeth when needed||Durable for temporary use|
|New types of ceramic like lithium disilicate and zirconia||Varies depending on material; may last 5–10 years||Some offer advanced, metal-like durability|
What Influences How Long a Crown Lasts?
There are a few factors when considering how long a crown will last. The most important factor is generally the type of material the crown is made from, as explained below.\ \ Other considerations include the following:
- Oral care: Taking care of your mouth and teeth ensures that your crown can last as long as possible. Cavities and decay may affect the tooth under the crown.\ \ Crowns also do not protect against gum disease. In fact, If there are any pockets between the crown and tooth, this can increase the risk of gum problems. Bacteria and particle buildup may form in these hard-to-reach places. This can lead to infections and loose gums — and a shortened crown life.
- Cracks and damage: Biting into hard objects or food can increase the likelihood of damaging your crown. Eating problematic foods like hard candies or chewy steaks without taking care not to harm your crowns can also lead to shorter lifespan.
- Regular dentist visits: During regular checkups and cleanings, your dentist will be able to spot any potential issues with your crown and address them before they become serious problems. For example, if your crown is loosening or fitting improperly, your dentist may see this and correct it before your crown falls out or washes away.
Types of Crowns
There are six types of crowns:
- Base metal alloy
- Ceramic or porcelain
- Porcelain fused to metal (PFM)
- Resin or stainless steel
- New materials (like zirconia and lithium disilicate)
Dental Crown Material Affects Longevity & Durability
The type of material used for a crown will affect its price and longevity.
Base Metal Amalgam
This type of crown is one of the most durable. The color does not match natural teeth, so it will typically be used on back teeth.
Metal alloy dental crowns withstand regular wear and tear, including teeth grinding or bruxism. They rarely chip and can last for decades. One medical survey found that an amalgam dental crown could last for 22.5 years on average.
This type of metal does not match the natural color of teeth, although some people intentionally ask for gold crowns for cosmetic reasons. Like base metal alloys, they are rarely used on front teeth unless the client specifically asks for it.
Gold is a durable metal, which is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Gold dental crowns often last more than 10 years.
Ceramic or Porcelain
These crowns almost perfectly match the natural color of teeth, and they are often used for front teeth that need support or replacement.
While porcelain and ceramic are exceptionally durable materials, they are brittle. They can chip or crack, and they might irritate or wear down surrounding teeth.
Composite resins, one type of crown in this group, can last for about 10 years. Glass ionomer cements, another type of ceramic or porcelain, can last about 5 years.
Porcelain Fused to Metal (PFM)
This is the most commonly recommended type of crown, combining the strength and durability of metal alloy with the natural color of porcelain. Although the manufacturing process fuses the porcelain onto the metal, these crowns are still made from two different substances.
Porcelain is still more prone to fractures than metal, so these crowns can become unstable or discolored more easily than metal alone. However, PFM crowns often last more than 10 years with good care.
Resin or Stainless Steel
Both resin and stainless steel crowns are considered temporary. Both types are only used in children to manage baby teeth that have fallen out early, suffered damage, or require significant fillings for cavities.
The material only needs to last as long as the natural baby tooth would, until the adult tooth is ready to grow in.
Overall Longevity of Crowns
Depending on the material, the amount of tooth structure remaining, your oral hygiene and your bite strength, dental crowns may last 5 to 15 years.
Other factors go into the longevity of dental crowns, including how well you take care of them, whether you struggle with dental issues like teeth clenching or grinding, your diet, how your dentist implanted the crown, and what type of condition the underlying tooth is in. If the underlying tooth is gone, another influencing factor is whether the dental implant is secure.
Insurance, Out-of-Pocket Cost & Your Choices for Dental Crowns
A dental crown is typically a medically necessary device, so your dental insurance should cover about half the cost. This is a normal breakdown for dental insurance in the United States, which usually covers 100 percent of annual preventative care like cleanings, 80 percent of some care like fillings or extractions, and half of more high-level treatment like crowns, bridges, and inlays.
The cost of dental crowns varies greatly on the material used. Newer materials like e.max and zirconia are more expensive, while traditional materials like metal and ceramic are less expensive.
Metal alloy is the least expensive option, ranging from $600 to $2,500 per tooth. Gold is typically more expensive, around $1,000 or more. PFM crowns are the most common and cost around $500 to $1,500 per tooth, while all porcelain or ceramic costs from $800 to $3,000.
Although porcelain is one of the more expensive materials, it is one of the less durable, so you will pay more for this type of crown over your lifetime, as you pay for more replacements.
The Necessity of Crowns
A crown is a cap that goes over a dental implant, root canal, or damaged tooth that helps to protect the area, create the function of a natural tooth, and restore your smile. Dental crowns are very common appliances in American adults.
In fact, by 17 years old, about 7 percent of people in the U.S. have lost at least one adult tooth. By 50 years old, the average American adult has lost an average of 12 teeth, including their wisdom teeth. This means that millions of adults in the United States have at least one dental crown.
Crowns are widely used by dental professionals not only to improve the appearance of teeth, but also to maintain good oral health. Putting a crown over a damaged or discolored tooth can keep it safe from further decay or enamel wear.
A crown on top of a tooth that has had a root canal protects the filling and restores shape, so the tooth fits into your natural bite properly. If you lose a tooth, a crown will be put on top of a dental implant to recreate a natural tooth.
Your dentist can help you decide on the best option for materials to suit your needs, but you can factor cost and insurance coverage into the choice as well. Ultimately, choosing the balance of natural appearance and durability means you pay less over time.
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