The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) said that adults aged 20 to 64 in the United States had an average of 9.3 decayed, missing, or filled teeth from 2011 to 2016. According to the institute, American adults’ oral health has not significantly changed in the past 20 years. This can mean that this number of cases of tooth decay, dental trauma, or other oral health issues are still present these days.
If you are among those with damaged teeth, your dentist may suggest the placement of crowns to restore their function and beauty. A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap placed over the visible portion of a tooth to restore its size, shape, strength, and appearance.
What Is a Dental Crown?
A dental crown (also called a tooth crown or tooth cap) is a custom-made covering that fits over the entire tooth portion that’s visible. It is typically made from porcelain, metal, resin, or ceramic material and is cemented into place. Depending on the number of tooth that needs crowns, you can have one, two, or even full mouth crowns.
The main purpose of these caps for teeth is to restore the function and appearance of your tooth with issues.
Tooth crown colors can be matched to the shade of your existing teeth for a natural appearance. For instance, porcelain crowns are often used in the front of your mouth to blend with your teeth. On the other hand, gold crowns are usually placed where it’s not visible.
How Long Do Dental Crowns Last?
On average, dental crowns can last anywhere from five to 15 years. The exact length may depend on the type of crown used and your dental care. Note that your dentist may consider the location of your tooth and the gum tissue position when choosing a material type for your dental crown.
But with proper oral hygiene and regular visits to the dental office, your crowns should last longer than expected.
Types of Dental Crowns
Dental crowns can be made from a variety of materials, including the following:
1. Metal Crowns
Metal crowns are made from gold, nickel, chromium, and other alloys. These crowns may provide superior strength and last longer than other types of crowns. They usually do not chip or break as porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns can. Metal crowns also offer an advantage over other types, requiring less tooth reduction and preserving more of your natural tooth structure.
2. Porcelain-Fused Metal Crowns (PFM)
Porcelain-fused metal crowns (also known as PFM crowns) are crafted from a combination of metal and porcelain material. The advantage of PFM crowns is that they can be shaded to match the color of your natural teeth. The metal layer helps to provide strength, and the porcelain layer gives the crown a natural tooth-like appearance.
3. All Ceramic or All-Porcelain Crowns
All-porcelain or all-ceramic crowns are made entirely of ceramic material, providing a look that resembles your natural teeth more closely than metal or PFM crowns. They are strong and durable and can be fabricated to match the color of your natural teeth.
One of the most popular ceramic crown types is the zirconia crown. Zirconia crowns are made from a strong, durable ceramic material that offers a natural look.
4. Pressed Ceramic Crowns
Pressed ceramic crowns are made from a single block of ceramic material. These crowns may be more difficult to match the color of your natural teeth, but they can provide strength and durability comparable to PFM crowns.
5. Composite Resin Crowns
This type of crown is made from acrylic material and offers a low-cost alternative to PFM, all-ceramic, or porcelain crowns. It may be more prone to wear and breakage than other types of crowns.
When Do You Might Need a Dental Crown?
The following are the most common reasons a dentist recommends dental crowns:
- To address damaged or broken teeth due to injury or decay
- To hold together parts of a cracked tooth
- To cover and support a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth left
- To replace missing teeth, used in combination with a dental bridge
- To cover dental implants
- To conceal severely discolored teeth due to tetracycline staining
- To improve the appearance of misshaped teeth
- To support a weak tooth
What to Expect During a Dental Crown Procedure?
1. Initial Consultation
Before placing a dental crown, you must visit your dentist for an initial consultation and treatment plan. During this appointment, your dentist will examine your teeth and gums and take dental digital X-rays to assess the damage. Additionally, they may assess if there is a risk of infection. If needed, they may also recommend other treatments, such as root canal treatment.
2. Preparing Your Tooth
Once it is determined that a dental crown is the best treatment option, your dentist will prepare your tooth for the crown. Preparing the tooth usually involves filing down and reshaping it to make room for the crown and ensure a perfect fit.
3. Making Impressions
Your dentist will then take an impression of your prepared teeth with a special material. This impression will be used to make a model for the permanent crown and can also be used to fabricate a temporary crown if needed.
A temporary crown is usually placed while waiting for your permanent crown to cover the prepared site for your actual crown placement.
4. Dental Crown Placement
Once the dental crown is ready, your dentist will check its fit and adjust it as necessary. The crown is then cemented into place with a special dental cement or adhesive. Your dentist may then use X-rays or other imaging technology to ensure that the crown is properly positioned.
Before going home, your dentist will provide instructions on caring for your dental crown. Following these instructions and practicing good oral hygiene is essential, as a properly cared-for crown can last for many years.
These could include:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing once a day
- Avoiding hard and chewy foods that could chip or crack the crown
- Maintaining regular dental visits, at least twice a year, for checkups and professional teeth cleanings
- If you grind your teeth at night, your dentist may recommend wearing a nightguard to protect your dental crowns from excessive wear or damage.
One of the most common questions regarding this procedure is “Is It Painful to Get a Dental Crown?”
Getting a dental crown is not usually painful. Your dentist will numb the area before beginning treatment, and you should not feel any discomfort during the procedure. Afterward, your mouth may be sensitive for a few days, but this is normal and should pass quickly.
Some patients may also ask, “How long after a crown is cemented can I drink?”
It is best to avoid eating or drinking for at least 1 to 2 hours after your crown is cemented, as this will allow the adhesive to harden and bond with the tooth properly. If you drink alcohol, avoid drinking it for at least 24 hours after crown placement.
Make sure to take this opportunity to ask your dentist any additional questions about dental crowns so that you can make an informed decision and feel confident in your treatment.
What Is Same-Day Dental Crowns?
Same-day dental crowns are a dental crown type that can be made and placed in a single appointment. Typically, the entire process of getting traditional crowns takes two or more visits to the dentist. However, this is no longer necessary with same-day crowns.
Instead, impressions or scans of the tooth can be taken and sent to a lab for fabrication on the same day. Then, the crown is placed during the same visit, saving you time and hassle.
What Are the Disadvantages of Dental Crowns?
While this dental procedure offers numerous benefits, you should also be aware of its potential disadvantages.
Here are some common drawbacks associated with dental crowns:
- Cost. The crown restoration procedure can be a significant investment, especially if multiple teeth require treatment. Dental crown costs can vary depending on a few factors, such as the material used, your insurance provider and insurance coverage, your location and dentist’s experience, and the complexity of the procedure. Some dental insurance plans cover a portion of the procedure’s cost. Contact your insurance company before making a dental appointment to determine your coverage.
- Sensitivity. Some patients may experience temporary sensitive teeth after getting a dental crown. This sensitivity usually subsides over time but can cause discomfort initially.
- Risk of damage. Although dental crowns are durable, they can still be susceptible to damage. Chewing on hard or sticky foods, grinding teeth, or trauma to the mouth can potentially cause the crown to chip, crack, or become loose.
- Potential for discoloration. Certain materials used for dental crowns, such as porcelain-fused-to-metal, may be prone to discoloration over time. This can result in a noticeable contrast between the crown and natural teeth.
- Removal of natural tooth structure. A significant portion of the natural tooth structure must be removed to accommodate the dental crown. This irreversible process can weaken the tooth and increase the risk of future complications.
- Allergic reactions. In rare cases, individuals may have allergies or sensitivities to the materials used in dental crowns, such as metal alloys. This can lead to allergic reactions or other oral health issues.
Dental crowns, as part of cosmetic dentistry, can be an excellent treatment for restoring damaged or decayed teeth. The procedure is relatively straightforward and offers many advantages, including improved aesthetics and enhanced strength. However, it is important to consider potential drawbacks and weigh the pros and cons before deciding if a dental crown is right for you. Ultimately, discuss your options with your dentist to determine which treatment best meets your needs.