Dental crowns are a popular dental treatment—and for good reason. They are incredibly versatile in that they offer both a cosmetic and a functional benefit. They work to strengthen teeth that have weakened, and prevent any further damage. They can also be used as ‘caps’ to cover damaged or misshapen teeth and create a more aesthetically balanced smile.
What are Dental Crowns?
A dental crown is a piece of dental material that is shaped to look like a tooth and then essentially used as a cap over the top of your natural teeth. Think of it like a ‘helmet’ for a tooth. Once it is installed, a crown is as functional as a regular tooth, allowing for complete freedom in cleaning and eating.
Permanent crowns can be made from all ceramic, porcelain-fused-to-metal, all metal (such as gold or another alloy), all resin or stainless steel. Stainless steel crowns are prefabricated crowns that are used on deciduous (also known as ‘baby’) teeth primarily as a temporary measure. Modern crowns are known for their durability and the way they mesh with the remaining teeth. Ceramic offers the most seamless aesthetic integration due to the similarity in colour and texture between natural teeth and ceramic.
When Do I Need a Crown?
You may need a crown if you:
- Have yellow or discoloured teeth.
- Have a chipped tooth or have lost a filling.
- Grind your teeth, often the teeth will appear ‘shorter’, crowns can be used to recreate their original height and restore the ideal aesthetic proportion of the tooth/teeth. In turn, you are able to chew food more comfortably.
- Have teeth that are spaced out or not aligned properly, you can have crowns or orthodontic treatment.
- Have undergone a root canal treatment or you have a large dental filling, you may need a dental crown to preserve your tooth and prevent future fractures.
- Lost your tooth or teeth to periodontal disease or a traumatic injury. Crown(s) with dental implants can be an ideal solution.
What is The Procedure for Fitting a Dental Crown?
Once your dentist has identified the need for a tooth to have a crown, the procedure involved in fitting crowns consist of two phases, which means the process will require one or more appointments:
- In the first stage, decayed or damaged tissue and tooth are removed under local anaesthetics, and the tooth is prepared to allow for the space for the cap to be fitted. After the shaping has finished, a dental impression is taken so the lab can create the crown. We may then affix a temporary crown to protect your tooth between appointments.
- Once the crown has been received from the lab, it will be fitted to create the perfect fit within the mouth. Finally, it will be cemented into place.
Is it Painful to Get a Crown?
Local anesthetics will be used during the crown preparation procedure and it is rare to develop severe toothache afterwards. However, mild discomfort or sensitivities can be expected. Over the counter painkillers are most often sufficient should any discomfort arises and this should only last a few days if at all. Nonetheless, in cases where the pain is severe and prolonged, make sure you let your dentist know before the crown is cemented in place.
So, How Long Will My Dental Crowns Last?
Dental crowns are not your natural teeth, they will not last forever. But just like your normal teeth, a crown will last longer if good oral hygiene regimen is adhered to.
On average, dental crowns can last for up to 15 years or more. Its longevity largely depends on factors like how much tooth structure was available at the time of crown insert, whether you grind your teeth, what material was chosen initially, and so on. For example, it is very common to see a full gold crown that has been in someone’s mouth for longer than 30 years and still going!
How to Care for Your Dental Crowns (so that they last longer)
Caring for your dental crowns isn’t difficult. In fact, you should just treat your crown like any other tooth. To care for the newest member of your mouth, focus on:
- Keeping up a good oral hygiene habit, which means brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, visiting the dentist every six months and eating a healthy diet with a focus on limiting sugary and acidic foods.
- When brushing, make sure you clean the area where the crown touches the gum. This is where bacteria and then plaque is most likely to build up.
- Never bite or chew on hard objects, like pens, and take care when chewing tough foods, particularly nuts.
- Avoid bad habits like chewing your nails, or opening food packets (or beer bottles!) with your teeth.
- If you struggle with bruxism (teeth grinding), make sure you ask your dentist for a night guard which will prevent you from damaging your jaw, gums and teeth.
How to Tell When Your Dental Crowns Need to Be Replaced
Whether your crown is made out of ceramic, porcelain or precious metal, it will be durable. Crowns are designed to withstand the force that teeth are put through, meaning you can chew, brush and drink as you usually would without worrying about cracks.
However, as mentioned above, if your oral hygiene habits aren’t in order, your crown won’t last as long as it could. Here are some signs that your dental crown needs to be replaced:
- If you notice any cracks or holes on your crown.
- You notice occlusal wear on the crown.
- You feel any pain under the crown (this could be a sign of decay).
- The crown feels loose.
- There is a dark margin appearing along the gum line, or you notice your gum tissue is receding.
- If you feel any infection or notice a pimple like swelling at the base of the crown.
If you need a new crown or a replacement crown, make sure you visit the best dentist possible. A crown isn’t something you want to get done ‘on the cheap’. While you may save money initially, you’ll have to replace it almost as quickly as it was fitted. Crowns need to be fitted and affixed correctly, or they will crack, break or even fall off.
For a high quality crown, you can usually expect to pay somewhere from $1,400 to $2,000 per crown depending on where you go. If you pay in that range, you can expect a quality procedure that will last for a long time, as long as you hold up your end of the bargain.
Frequently Asked Questions about Crowns
Will there be a colour difference between the crown and my real tooth?
A tooth is never just a single shade of white colour. At dhealth, we have the experience and expertise to match the shade of your tooth (as close as possible) to with your adjacent teeth. In tricky cases, we may ask you to visit the dental lab technician to have a ‘shade matching’ session. This session will ensure the best aesthetic result is achieved. We do everything possible to make the tooth coloured crown as indistinguishable from your existing teeth as possible.
Can a dental crown be whitened?
No. Crowns, along with any other dental materials, .e.g. fillings, will not respond to whitening treatments. If you decide to whiten your natural enamel, there will be a risk of colour mis-matching if you have any pre-existing visible fillings or crowns. As a result, it is highly recommended that before your smile makeover, teeth whitening is performed first to obtain your most desired teeth shade, then we select a dental crown shade that matches your whiter teeth.
What are the alternatives to dental crown?
Depending on the initial reason for crowning, a dental bridge, denture or implant can replace missing tooth. For tooth decay, fillings, onlays and inlays can be a great alternative. Porcelain veneers or a combination of orthodontic treatment might also be indicated. We will recommend different options for your particular needs during your comprehensive oral examination.
Can I undergo orthodontics treatment if I already have a crown?
Yes you can. Teeth with crowns can be moved with orthodontic treatments. However, sometimes after such treatment, the margins of a crown can become visible and therefore a new crown maybe indicated.
I hope we have covered everything you need to know about crowns.
Please ask our friendly dentist Dr Anna if you think you can benefit from a crown today!