- Dental crowns are artificial tooth caps, placed over the natural tooth or dental implant
- They are used for restoring the shape, size, and function of the damaged tooth
- Dental crowns can be made from various materials including metals, porcelain, ceramic, and resin
- The life expectancy of a dental crown varies, but generally lasts between 5 to 15 years
- Dental crowns can improve the appearance of the tooth and protect it from further damage
What is a Dental Crown?
A dental crown is a fixed prosthetic device that is cemented onto a tooth. Unlike dentures, which can be removed, a dental crown can only be removed by a dentist. Dental crowns are used to cover a damaged tooth, and not only improve the appearance of the tooth but also strengthen it. Besides serving a cosmetic purpose, a dental crown can be used to hold a dental bridge in place, cover a dental implant, and make a tooth more durable if it is significantly worn down or broken.
When Would You Need a Dental Crown?
Dental crowns are versatile and can be used in various situations. You might need a dental crown if:
- You have a weak tooth that needs protection from breaking, or a tooth that is already broken and needs to be held together
- You have a tooth that is severely worn down
- You have a large filling that needs additional support
- You need to cover a dental implant
- You want to make a cosmetic modification, for instance, cover a discolored or misshapen tooth
- You have undergone a root canal treatment; the crown can protect the restored tooth
- You need to anchor and attach a dental bridge
Types of Dental Crowns
- Metal Crowns: Metal crowns are made from alloys with a high content of gold or platinum, or base-metal alloys like cobalt-chromium and nickel-chromium. Metal crowns withstand biting and chewing forces well and last the longest in terms of wear down.
- Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal (PFM) Crowns: These crowns are a hybrid between porcelain and metal crowns. The base is made of metal to fit perfectly over the tooth, and porcelain is fused to the base to give the crown a tooth-like appearance.
- Pressed Ceramic Crowns: Pressed ceramic crowns have a hard inner core. They are made from a more durable porcelain than conventional crowns and are known for their lasting strength and stunning aesthetics.
- All-Ceramic or All-Porcelain Crowns: These crowns provide the best natural color match than any other crown type and are also a good choice for people with metal allergies. All-ceramic crowns are suitable for both front and back teeth.
- Same-Day Dental Crowns: Same-day dental crowns are made in the dentist’s office. A 3D camera is used to take images of the tooth, and the crown is made on the same day with the help of CAD/CAM technology.
- All-Resin Crowns: All-resin crowns are less expensive than other crown types. However, they wear down over time and are more prone to fractures.
What are the Benefits of Dental Crowns? (Pros of Dental Crowns)
- Restoring Function: Dental crowns can restore the function of a damaged tooth, making it easier to chew and talk.
- Aesthetic Improvement: They can be used to improve the appearance of discolored or misshapen teeth.
- Protection: Dental crowns protect weak teeth from further damage. This is especially beneficial for teeth that are cracked or have undergone a root canal.
- Support for Dental Appliances: Crowns can serve as anchors or dental bridges or as a cap for dental implants.
- Customization: Dental crowns are customized to match the shape, size, and color of your natural teeth, ensuring a more natural look.
- Durability: Dental crowns are made from durable materials and can last many years with proper care.
What are the Disadvantages of Dental Crowns? (Cons of Dental Crowns)
- Tooth Sensitivity: After the placement of a crown, the tooth may be sensitive to hot and cold. This sensitivity usually subsides over time.
- Discomfort or Pain: Some patients may experience discomfort or mild pain after the procedure.
- Chipping or Loosening: The crown can chip or become loose, requiring repair or replacement.
- Allergic Reactions: In rare cases, patients may have an allergic reaction to the materials used in the crown.
- Cost: Dental crowns can be expensive, especially if they are not covered by dental insurance.
- Invasive Procedure: To fit a crown, the natural tooth must be filed down which is an irreversible process.
Veneers vs. Crowns: Which Option is Right for Me?
Veneers and crowns are both dental restoration techniques that can improve the appearance and function of your teeth. Here’s a comparison to help you understand which option might be right for you:
- Coverage: Veneers only cover the front surface of a tooth, whereas crowns cover the entire tooth.
- Tooth Alteration: Less tooth structure needs to be removed for a veneer compared to a crown.
- Durability: Crowns are generally more durable than veneers.
- Uses: Veneers are primarily used for cosmetic purposes. Crowns are used for both restorative and cosmetic purposes.
- Cost: Veneers and crowns can be comparable in cost, but crowns are sometimes more expensive.
- Protection: Crowns offer more protection to a damaged tooth compared to veneers.
Your choice between a veneer or crown will depend on your dental needs, the condition of your tooth, and the recommendation of your dentist.
How Long Does It Take to Feel Better After a Dental Crown Procedure?
It usually takes a few days to a week for the discomfort and sensitivity to subside after a dental crown procedure. During this period, it’s advisable to avoid very hot or cold foods and drinks.
Foods to Avoid with a Crown
- Hard or crunchy foods like nuts and hard candies
- Sticky foods like caramel or taffy
- Very hot or cold foods and beverages
- Chewy foods like steak or bagels
- Foods that could stain the crown, such as coffee or red wine (for all-porcelain crowns)
How Long Do Crowns Last?
The lifespan of a dental crown depends on various factors including the material of the crown, the patient’s oral hygiene, and eating habits. On average, dental crowns last between 5 to 15 years.
Are Dental Crowns Permanent?
Dental crowns are considered a permanent restoration, but they are not indestructible. With time, a dental crown may need to be repaired or replaced due to wear or damage.
Are Dental Crowns Painful?
The process of getting a dental crown involves reshaping the tooth and fitting the crown. During the procedure, your dentist will use local anesthesia, so you should not feel pain. However, after the anesthesia wears off, it’s common to experience some sensitivity, discomfort, or mild pain for a few days. This can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.
What’s the Most Common Alternative to a Crown?
One of the most common alternatives to a crown is a dental onlay or inlay. These are similar to crowns but are used when the tooth damage is not extensive enough to require a crown. Inlays and onlays are made from similar materials to crowns and are used to restore the shape of a tooth and prevent further decay or damage.
Another alternative is a dental filling, which is used when the tooth structure is still largely intact and the damage is minimal to moderate.
Dental Cap vs. Crown: Is there a Difference?
The terms “dental cap” and “dental crown” are often used interchangeably. They both refer to a protective covering that encases the entire tooth surface, restoring it to its original shape and size. Whether you call it a cap or a crown, the purpose is to strengthen and protect the tooth structure that cannot be restored with fillings or other types of restorations.
Choosing the right dental restoration is an important decision that should be made with the guidance of a dental professional. Make sure to discuss all of your options with your dentist to determine the best solution for your specific dental needs.
How Do I Care for My Dental Crown?
- Practice Good Oral Hygiene: Brush twice a day and floss daily to keep the area around the crown clean.
- Regular Dental Visits: Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.
- Avoid Hard Foods: Do not bite down on hard foods that could damage the crown.
- Don’t Grind Your Teeth: If you grind or clench your teeth, talk to your dentist about wearing a nightguard.
- Use Mouthwash: Use an antiseptic mouthwash to help keep your mouth clean.
Understanding the pros and cons of dental crowns, as well as knowing how to care for them, can help you in making informed decisions regarding your oral health. Always consult your dentist for personalized advice and information.
Dental crowns are an effective solution for a variety of dental issues, from protection and restoration to aesthetic improvements. It’s essential to consult with your dentist to decide which type of dental crown is the best option for your specific needs. Proper dental hygiene and regular dental check-ups are key to ensuring the longevity of your dental crown.
This article is complete and was published on June 23, 2023, and last updated on August 26, 2023.