How Much a Crown Actually Costs

I’ve been wondering how much it costs my office to make a crown.  Certainly the lab fee is the biggest component but there are a lot of other little nagging charges that add up.  Well what do they add up to?  What does it actually cost us to make a crown?

So here’s our thought experiment.  A patient presents for a porcelain-fused-to-meta l crown on a posterior tooth.  On the first visit, we prepare the tooth, take the impression, and make a provisional crown in an hour.  Then we see the patient for a half hour for the final insertion.

We use a triple tray impression with a heavy and a light body impression material.  I take a pre-operative matrix of the tooth and squirt bis-acryl into that to make my provisional.  Nothing special.

I used fees from a national dental product supplier.  The brands are middle-of-the-road products; not the cheapest but not the most expensive.  Most of these are self-explanatory but I added some background in parentheses where necessary.  Here we go…

Preparation and Impression:
Anesthetic: $0.52 ($25.98 per box of 50 of 2% lidocaine)
Anesthetic syringe tip: $0.11
Diamond burs: $1.80 ($45.40 for a 5 pack, assume 10 uses per bur, assume using two different diamond bur styles for prep)
Retraction cord: $0.29
Impression material: $10.83 ($108.29 per 4 cartridges, assume use of a heavy body and a medium body, assume 1/5 cartridge used of each per procedure)
Impression material tips: $2.89 (a tip for heavy body, a tip for medium body, and a tip for the COE syringe)
Triple tray: $0.90
Total: $14.45

Provisional Fabrication:
Bis-acryl for provisional: $9.60 ($192.53 for 76gm cartridge, assume 20 units per cartridge)
Bis-acryl tip: $1.04
Provisional cement: $2.00 ($80.25 for 2 cartridges, assume 20 units per cartridge)
Provisional cement tip: $0.71
Tray for matrix: $0.96 ($47.95 for 50 pack)
Matrix material: $ 4.38 ($210.00 for 12 pack, assume 1/4 cartridge used per procedure)
Matrix material tip: $0.75
Total: $19.44

Laboratory and Final Cementation:
Laboratory costs: INSERT YOUR LAB FEE HERE
Permanent cement: $5.46 (Rely-X Unicem is $218.30 per clicker dispenser, 40 units can be cemented per clicker)
Total: $5.46 + your lab fee

Miscellaneous Costs of Note:
Assistant salary: $27.00 (assume $18 per hour)
Front desk salary: $30.00 (assume $20 per hour)
Rent: $10.27 (assume $5,000 per month, there are 730.48 hours in a month, so assume $6.84 per hour)
Total: $67.27

GRAND TOTAL: $106.62 + your lab fee

Now we must admit we’re being conservative.  There are a lot of numbers I didn’t include, such as cost of infection control procedures, wear and tear on equipment, cost of liability and disability insurances, utilities, etc.  But this hopefully serves as a starting point for you to examine your overhead for different procedures in your practice.

For example, I was shocked to see that my method of provisional fabrication was so expensive.  And all of those tips for impression and provisional material aren’t cheap.

Now I’m not the kind of guy who cuts corners and shops around for the best possible price.  But I did find this experiment helpful to start conversations with my lead assistant about our overhead.

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