If you’ve never needed a dental crown, hearing that treatment recommendation can be unsettling at first. However, in this post, you'll learn that dental crowns are a common way to restore missing tooth structure, and most people will need one at some point in their lives.
Whether it is recommended because of a large cavity, or a broken tooth, it is helpful to understand the different ways that crowns can be used to restore the health, esthetics, and function of your teeth. Over time, various conditions and factors can damage your teeth. For example, there can be a sudden injury to the face causing a broken tooth, or progressive damage from grinding that results in severe tooth surface destruction. In these instances, a crown is placed and permanently cemented over the tooth to restore its ideal shape, and protect it from further damage.
Apart from protecting teeth and restoring broken ones, crowns can also be used to support dental bridges, change the color of dark teeth, cover teeth with root canals, or restore dental implants. So, you can see that they are many applications for crowns making them a very versatile form of treatment.
There are also options of covering and restoring teeth with more conservative restorations that resemble crowns. These restorations are called onlays or ¾ crowns, and fit on top of teeth to help replace missing cusps from the biting surface. They do not cover the entire tooth, and are inherently weaker than a crown, but with proper technique and used in the right situations they can last as long, or even longer than crowns.
Dental Crown Options
Permanent dental crowns can be made of different types of materials. For example, several metals such as gold, platinum, and palladium are often ideal choices for crowns in areas where esthetics aren’t a concern. These are the most durable in that they can’t crack or chip, and can best withstand natural chewing forces as a result of their mechanical properties. In addition, metal options can require less tooth structure removal because the material can still be structurally sound when it’s thin, as opposed to the more cosmetically appealing crown materials.
Porcelain fused to metal crowns (PFMs) provide the best of both worlds in that they have a metal substructure with a porcelain overlay to mask the metal appearance. This crown material has been used for many years as the all-around best, before other options were available because the porcelain allows us to match the natural appearance of the teeth. However, the porcelain is susceptible to chipping off over time revealing the metal base. Removing more tooth structure is essential to allow sufficient room for this thicker crown type so that enough porcelain can be layered to mask the dark metal foundation. Furthermore, even slight chipping of the porcelain glaze exposes a sharp surface that is very abrasive to natural tooth structure leading to severe wear of the opposing tooth.
Ceramic crowns, another group of materials, have gained popularity in recent years due to advancements in their design, making them a comparable option to the more traditional PFMs. Ceramic is an umbrella-term that includes different materials such as zirconia, lithium disilicate, and leucite reinforced porcelain. These materials differ in their strength, visual appearance, and treatment technique making this class a versatile material group. They are the best at matching the natural appearance of teeth and are also kinder to the surrounding gum tissues, which can exhibit a hypersensitivity to metal crowns.
Related post: Dental Crowns: Ever Wondered What's in Them?
What To Expect When You Need a Dental Crown
Typically, the dental crown process requires two visits. The first involves taking x-rays of the tooth and the surrounding bone, then circumferentially reducing the tooth to make room for the crown. A putty impression, or a digital scan, is taken of the prepared tooth and sent to a dental laboratory technician who uses it to make a model of the tooth to build the final crown on. After the first visit, you leave with a temporary crown that covers the tooth while the permanent one is being made. At the second visit, the dentist will remove the temporary crown and permanently cement the final one, assuming it fits properly and matches the adjacent teeth.
On average, a dental crown should last about 10 years. The longevity depends on many factors including, but not limited to, oral hygiene habits, presence of bad functional habits like teeth grinding, and overall risk of developing cavities.
At our office, we go above and beyond to discuss your treatment options and ensure that your crown procedure is painless and stress-free. If you would like more information about dental crowns, we are always available to answer your questions in depth. Get in touch with us at Nargiz Zadeh, DMD today to book your appointment.
Testimonial from Ani, Satisfied Patient
Extremely welcoming and friendly office. Everyone was so helpful and kind. I would definitely encourage anyone in need of dental services to reach out to Dr. Zadeh's office. There are really no words to explain how easy the process was and how pleasant this experience was for me.