Teeth crown is nothing but a cap-like structure placed on top of your damaged teeth. Crowns are used to cover, protect and restore the shape of your teeth when fillings do not solve the problem.
The crown can be made out of different substances like metals, resin, porcelain and ceramics. They typically do not require any special care over time other than regular good oral hygiene.
If your natural teeth have an undesirable appearance due to color, shape, or spacing between teeth – crowns can make them look very natural and beautiful.
1 What is a Dental Crown?
Over time, your teeth might get damaged. The damage can happen for a variety of reasons. It could be due to tooth decay, tooth injuries or just the use of your teeth.
As a result, your teeth can lose their shape or size. These crowns are designed to cover such damaged teeth.
These crowns are tooth-shaped “caps” that are fitted over your tooth. Think of it as a hat for your tooth. The crown will help to restore your teeth’s shape, size, strength and appearance. While preparing the tooth you dentist will take care of all the parameters.
The crown is then cemented into place on your tooth. It fully encapsulates the entire visible portion of your tooth that lies above your gum line.
2 Why are Dental Crowns Needed?
You may need a teeth crown in case you encounter any of the following situations:
- You may need it to protect a weak tooth (for instance, from a decayed tooth) from breaking down.
- Crowns are needed to hold together parts of your cracked tooth.
- You might need a crown to restore a tooth that has been severely worn down.
- It is used to hold a dental bridge in place.
- A teeth crown is required to support a tooth with a large filling. In case there is not much portion of the tooth left.
- It is also used to cover severely discolored or misshapen teeth.
- You may also need a crown as part of a cosmetic dental procedure.
The anatomy of your teeth is such that the crown is the visible section of the teeth. Hence if your actual crown is destroyed, a crown is required for the restoration of your tooth.
You can have a variety of situations when you might need your tooth to be restored with a teeth crown.
3 What are the Types of Dental Crown Available?
You can choose from a variety of permanent crowns. It can be made of different substances like stainless steel, porcelain-fused-to-metal, all metal (such as alloy or gold), all resin, or all ceramic.
a) Metal crowns – Different metals are used to make crowns, including gold, nickel, palladium and chromium. The crowns are made of metal alloys that have a high content of gold or platinum or base-metal alloys like nickel-chromium and cobalt-chromium alloys. These metal crowns are designed to withstand the biting and chewing forces. They rarely break and last longer in terms of wear down.
b) Stainless steel crowns – Your dentist will often use a stainless crown on your permanent teeth as a temporary measure. Temporary crowns protect your tooth temporarily, while a permanent crown is prepared from another material.
c) Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns – You can choose porcelain fused metal crown to match your adjacent teeth color. These crowns have a natural tooth color and hence are popular. You can choose these crowns for your front or back teeth. You can also choose porcelain fused metal crowns for long bridges where the metal is needed for strength.
d) All-resin crowns – You can opt for these crowns as they are less expensive than other crown types. The crowns are made of resin which wears down over time and may likely break.
e) All-ceramic or all-porcelain crowns – This category of teeth crowns provide a better natural color match compared to others. Moreover, these crowns are preferred by people who are allergic to metal.
4 What are 3/4 Crowns and Onlays?
There are many types of crowns that the dentist uses on your teeth. Onlays and 3/4 crowns are types of crowns that do not cover as much of your underlying tooth as traditional crowns.
A traditional crown will cover your entire tooth. In contrast, onlays and 3/4 crowns are appropriate when you still have a solid tooth structure left.
When you want to restore your tooth, these are more traditional to full coverage of your crown. During this procedure, your dentist will remove the affected area and perform a reshaping of your tooth to fit the crown.
5 What Problems can Develop with a Dental Crown?
You might experience several issues over time with your crown, including:
Discomfort or sensitivity:
Your newly crowned tooth may be sensitive just after the procedure. As the effect of the anesthesia begins to come down. If your crowned tooth still has a nerve in it, you might experience some heat and cold sensitivity.
In such a scenario, your dentist might recommend using a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. If you have pain or sensitivity when you bite down usually means there is an issue. In that case, your dentist will fix the problem.
Porcelain crowns may sometimes chip. Small chips can be repaired by your dentist and the crown can remain in your mouth. If the chip is large, the crown may need to be replaced.
Sometimes, the cement that holds the crown on can wash out from underneath the crown. Your crown will become loose and will allow bacteria to leak in. In the long run, it can cause tooth decay in the remaining teeth. If your crown feels loose, contact your dentist at the earliest.
Crown falls off:
Your crown can actually fall off. Yes, when this happens, it is due to an improper fit or a lack of cement.
Visit your dentist’s office immediately to get it fixed. Your dentist will give you specific instructions on how to take care of your tooth and crown.
Your dentist will also re-cement your crown in place. If your crown can’t be put back in place, a new crown will need to be made.
The crown is made of a mixture of several metals. You can have an allergic reaction after the procedure. This is because of the metal or porcelain that’s used in the crown. Though this is extremely rare.
6 How to Take Care of Your Dental Crown?
After your crown treatment, you need to take good care of your teeth. But it is a fact that you do not need to take special care of your crowned tooth. Remember that simply because your tooth is crowned does not mean it is protected from any kind of decay or gum disease.
Therefore you need to follow good oral hygiene practices, like brushing, flossing and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash often.
You should also visit your dentist every six months. Especially for the examination of your crowned teeth and the adjoining area.
Few easy tips can prolong the life of your crowned teeth for years.
- After your crown treatment, avoid eating hard foods. Hard food might cause your crown to crack. Especially if you have a porcelain crown.
- Practice careful brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. You can use special toothpaste for your sensitive teeth if your crown or the teeth are sensitive to cold or heat.
- If you have the habit of grinding your teeth at night. Your dentist might recommend a nightguard to protect your crown and teeth from the damaging effects of teeth grinding.
7 How is Your Tooth Prepared for a Crown?
For a crown procedure, you will typically have two visits to the dentist.
The first visit. During the first visit, your tooth that’s going to receive the crown is examined and prepared. X-ray of your tooth is taken and the bone around it.
In some cases, your dentist might have to do a root canal treatment before your crown procedure. This is to protect your teeth in the long run.
Your dentist will do a dental filling, reshape your teeth and make an impression of your teeth. This is done to make sure that the crown will not affect your bite.
On the second day of your visit, the permanent crown is placed on your teeth. Local anesthesia or numbing drugs are sometimes used to numb your tooth. After which the new crown is permanently cemented in place.
8 How Long Do a Crown Last?
On average, your crown can last for 5 to 15 years. It all depends on your overall oral health.
The lifespan of a crown can depend on the amount of wear and tear the crown is exposed to. It also depends on your personal mouth-related habits.
Your mouth-related habits can include things like chewing ice, grinding your teeth, biting your fingernails and using your teeth to open the packaging.
Nowadays, dentists can manufacture the crown on their own premises instead of sending it to dedicated laboratories. These are known as same-day crown placement procedures. This saves on the number of visits to the dentist.