What Are Dental Crowns?

A crown is basically a cap for a damaged tooth. It can be made from a variety of materials, including metal or porcelain.

You might have a crown over a molar that rarely shows, except when you yawn widely, or you might have crowns on your front teeth that were specifically designed to match your other teeth.

Several factors are important to consider when choosing a crown, including:

  • cost
  • strength
  • durability

A natural appearance that doesn’t detract from your smile may also be a priority for you. A dentist can discuss the various options and help you to figure out what best meets your needs.

But First, Do You Really Need a Crown?

Before looking into the different types of dental crowns and costs, how can you know for sure if you need a crown, an inlay, an onlay, or just a filling?

Well, after a thorough examination during your first office visit, your dentist will evaluate your particular case, and guide you on possible treatments.  Generally, some of the most common causes of getting a dental crown are:

  • A weakened tooth after severe decay or cavity
  • To cover an implant
  • To replace a large filling
  • A natural tooth that is damaged or cracked
  • A tooth that has undergone a root canal (especially posterior teeth)
  • To align your bite
  • For aesthetics purposes: to achieve a more beautiful smile by leveling the size, shape, and color of your teeth.

What Does Getting a Crown Involve?

In most cases, if you need a custom-made crown, be ready to visit your dentist a couple of times. It is not something a dentist can do in only one appointment, unless he or she owns a CEREC® or similar device, which allows patients to get the crown in one visit.

The process may be different for each type of dental crown, too. In general, getting a crown involves:

  • Your dentist will prepare your tooth, which can involve just the removal of decay, a root canal, or both.
  • S/he takes a mold so that the crown fits the exact shape of your tooth.
  • A temporary restoration is used to protect the tooth until the crown is ready. You should take special care of this temporary cap and avoid eating hard or sticky foods to prevent it from cracking.
  • After about a week, your dentist will have the crown ready

What Types of Crowns Are Available?

Permanent crowns can be made from stainless steel, all-metal (such as gold or another alloy), porcelain-fused-to-metal, all resin, or all ceramic.

  • Stainless steel crowns are prefabricated crowns that are used on permanent teeth primarily as a temporary measure. The crown protects the tooth or filling while a permanent crown is made from another material. For children, a stainless steel crown is commonly used to fit over a primary tooth that’s been prepared to fit it. The crown covers the entire tooth and protects it from further decay. When the primary tooth comes out to make room for the permanent tooth, the crown comes out naturally with it. In general, stainless steel crowns are used for children’s teeth because they don’t require multiple dental visits to put in place and so are more cost-effective than custom-made crowns and prophylactic dental care needed to protect a tooth without a crown.
  • Metals used in crowns include alloys that have a high content of gold or platinum, or base-metal alloys (for example, cobalt-chromium and nickel-chromium alloys). Metal crowns withstand biting and chewing forces well and probably last the longest in terms of wear down. Also, metal crowns rarely chip or break. The metallic color — and the high price of gold — is the main drawback. Metal crowns are a good choice for out-of-sight molars.
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crowns can be color-matched to your adjacent teeth (unlike the metallic crowns). However, more wearing to the opposing teeth occurs with this crown type compared with metal or resin crowns. The crown’s porcelain portion can also chip or break off. Next to all-ceramic crowns, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns look most like normal teeth. However, sometimes the metal underlying the crown’s porcelain can show through as a dark line, especially at the gum line and even more so if your gums recede. These crowns can be a good choice for front or back teeth as well as long bridges where the metal is needed for strength.
  • All-resin dental crowns are less expensive than other crown types. However, they wear down over time and are more prone to fractures than porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. 
  • All-ceramic or all-porcelain dental crowns provide better natural color match than any other crown type and may be more suitable for people with metal allergies. All-ceramic crowns can be used for front and back teeth.
  • Temporary versus permanent. Temporary crowns can be made in your dentist’s office, whereas most permanent crowns are typically made in a dental laboratory. Typically, temporary crowns are made of an acrylic-based material or stainless steel and can be used as a temporary restoration until a permanent crown is constructed by a lab

Dental crown care

Once the crown is in, it’s important to take good care of it. Careful attention to your crown can prolong its life.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Practice careful brushing. If you’re not already brushing your teeth twice a day, it’s time to start. Consider using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth if your crown or the teeth around it are sensitive to heat or cold.
  • Flossing daily can help keep all your teeth in tip-top shape.
  • Avoid hard foods. Chewing ice or hard foods might cause your crown to crack, especially if you have a porcelain crown.
  • If you grind or clench your teeth at night, your dentist may recommend a nightguard to protect your crown and surrounding teeth.

Temporary dental crown care

You’ll want to be especially gentle with a temporary crown because the adhesive is only meant for temporary installations.

Brush as usual but be extra gentle. When you floss, try to pull the floss out from the side of the tooth instead of snapping the floss back upward, which could dislodge the crown.

Call your dentist if your temporary crown comes off or breaks while you’re waiting for the permanent crown. Your dentist can reglue it or make a new one for you.

Resources:

webmd.com

healthline.com

delraydentalwellness.com

We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.

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