Dental crowns are a cornerstone of restorative dentistry, designed to improve the function and appearance of teeth. They are used to cover implants or natural teeth, addressing issues like large fillings, cracks, or cosmetic compromises. This article will provide a detailed analysis of dental crowns, including materials, procedures, and expected outcomes.
Types of Dental Crowns
Dental crowns are a popular solution to restore the look and function of a damaged tooth. They come in various types, each with its own unique characteristics, advantages, and considerations. Let’s delve into the details of each type.
Metal crowns are a blend of various metals, such as gold, palladium, nickel, and chromium. They are known for their high durability and require minimal enamel removal.
- Strength and Durability: Metal crowns are incredibly strong, able to withstand chewing and biting forces well, and last for a very long period of time. They hardly break or chip off.
- Minimal Tooth Structure Removal: These crowns require a very little amount of trimming of the tooth.
- Aesthetics: Their metallic color may not be aesthetically pleasing, making them suitable for less visible teeth like molars.
- Cost: The price of a full metal crown in the US usually starts around $650 and can go up to $1,300 or more.
Ceramic crowns offer the most natural look, mimicking the translucency of tooth enamel.
- Natural Look: Ceramic restorations have the ability to mimic the reflective quality of original teeth, allowing all-ceramic crowns to blend with surrounding teeth.
- Durability: Ceramic is more resistant to wear than other materials for longer-lasting results.
- Fabrication Time and Cost: Due to their complexity, all-ceramic crowns take longer to fabricate than other types of dental crowns. Additional laboratory fees can often increase the overall cost.
- Fracture Risk: Ceramic restorations need to be thicker than other materials to prevent them from breaking. If a fracture occurs, all-ceramic is more difficult to repair.
Porcelain Fused to Metal (PFM) Crowns
PFM crowns combine the strength of metal with the aesthetic appeal of porcelain.
- Strength and aesthetics: PFM crowns offer both the durability of metal and the aesthetics of porcelain. The metal, supportive base of a PFM crown gives your restored tooth greater biting power and prevents chips or cracks better than an all-porcelain crown.
- Cost: PFM crowns are usually cheaper than porcelain crowns. PFM crowns cost, on average, $800 to $1,400, while porcelain crowns cost $800 to $3,000.
- Aesthetics: PFM crowns lack the superior esthetics of all-porcelain crowns. They cannot usually mimic the natural transparency of a tooth because of the opaque metal base underneath the porcelain layer.
- Wear on Opposing Teeth: This type of crown may wear down more easily against the opposing teeth.
All-Ceramic or Porcelain Crowns
All-ceramic or porcelain crowns are ideal for those with metal allergies. They closely resemble natural tooth enamel and are highly durable, especially those made from zirconium dioxide.
- Aesthetics and Durability: These crowns closely resemble natural tooth enamel and are highly durable.
- Metal Allergies: Ideal for those with metal allergies.
Usage: Suitable for both front and back teeth.
Resin crowns are less expensive than other types but are more prone to breakage.
Affordability: Less expensive than other types, but more prone to breakage.
Usage: Often used for temporary crowns.
Same-Day Dental Crowns
Same-day dental crowns utilize CAD/CAM technology to create crowns in one visit.
Technology: Utilizes CAD/CAM technology to create crowns in one visit.
Suitability: Not suitable for all patients; check with your dentist.
Remember, when considering types of dental crowns, try not to go directly to the least expensive dentist without analyzing your options. Weigh in all factors before deciding.
Ideal Candidates for Dental Crowns
Dental crowns, often referred to as “caps,” are tooth-shaped coverings that are placed over a damaged or decayed tooth to restore its shape, size, and strength. They are typically made from materials such as porcelain, ceramic, metal alloys, or resin, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.
Who Needs Dental Crowns?
Dental crowns are an excellent solution for a variety of dental issues. They are often used to restore the look and functionality of teeth that have suffered damage or decay. However, not everyone is a suitable candidate for this treatment. Here are some factors that make someone a good candidate for dental crowns:
- Tooth Damage: Dental crowns are often used to cover and protect damaged teeth that cannot be restored with other treatments such as fillings or bonding. They can also provide extra support for teeth that have undergone root canal treatment.
- Severe Dental Decay: If you have severe decay that affects most of your tooth, a dental crown can be used after a filling. However, if the decay is too extensive, extraction might be recommended instead.
- Cracked or Chipped Teeth: If you have a tooth that’s cracked or chipped, having a dental crown put on can help protect it from additional damage or infection. Crowns can also improve the appearance of these teeth for a healthier smile.
- Tooth Discoloration: If you have severe tooth discoloration or stains, dental crowns can cover the affected teeth and make them look whiter.
- Missing Teeth: Dental crowns can also be used to cap missing teeth gaps by functioning as artificial tooth replacements over dental implants and bridges.
- Children with Damaged Teeth: Children with damaged teeth from tooth decay or injuries are also candidates for dental crowns. Dentists often provide stainless steel crowns over children’s molars, but adults will likely receive a porcelain crown for aesthetic purposes.
Choosing the Right Material for Your Dental Crown
The material for your dental crown will depend on your specific needs and the location of the tooth. For example, porcelain or ceramic dental crowns are commonly used for front teeth because they blend in well with natural teeth. Metal alloy crowns are more durable and recommended for back teeth where the biting force is greater. Resin crowns are less expensive but may not last as long as other types of dental crowns.
Procedure and Recovery
The process of getting a dental crown involves several steps, each crucial to ensuring the success and longevity of the treatment.
The initial visit to the dentist involves a thorough examination of the damaged tooth. The dentist will assess whether a crown is the best solution to repair and protect the tooth, and also look for other potential dental problems that may need attention.
Once the decision to proceed with a dental crown is made, the dentist will prepare the affected tooth. This involves removing a small amount of enamel from the tooth to make room for the crown. This process is carried out under local anesthesia to ensure patient comfort.
After the tooth is prepared, an impression of your smile is taken. This can be done with either a physical mold or through digital imaging. The impression captures the size and shape of your tooth, which is then sent to a dental lab to construct a customized permanent crown.
To protect the prepared tooth, a temporary crown is placed over it. This temporary crown serves as a barrier, protecting the exposed area of the tooth where the enamel has been removed and preventing the prepared tooth from shifting out of place.
The second visit to the dentist occurs after the permanent crown has been constructed, which usually takes around two to three weeks.
During this visit, the temporary crown is easily removed, and the permanent crown is fitted over the tooth. The dentist secures the crown using dental cement, ensuring a secure and comfortable fit that will not disrupt your bite.
The crown is then polished to ensure it looks and feels its best in your smile. With proper care, the crown can stay in place for up to fifteen years.
The recovery period after the placement of a dental crown typically lasts for a few days.
During the first 24 hours after the procedure, it is recommended to avoid hard and sticky foods such as caramel candy, celery sticks, carrots, popcorn, or nuts.
Once this period has passed, you can slowly reintroduce sticky or chewy food into your diet. Once you feel comfortable chewing with no apparent pain, you can add hard foods to your diet.
Potential Side Effects:
Patients may experience some inflammation, sensitivity, and tenderness in the days following the procedure.
In rare cases, an infection may occur. If you experience severe pain, swelling, or other unusual symptoms, it is important to contact your dentist immediately.
Oral Hygiene Practices:
Maintaining good oral hygiene practices is crucial for the longevity of your dental crown. This includes brushing and flossing daily. While the crown is artificial, the tooth supporting it is very real and needs to be cleaned regularly.
It’s also important to avoid bad habits such as chewing on your nails or opening bottles with your teeth, as these can damage the crown.
Getting a dental crown is a multi-step process that involves careful preparation of the tooth, placement of a temporary crown, and finally, fitting and cementing the permanent crown. The recovery period involves careful aftercare, including dietary adjustments and maintaining good oral hygiene practices. With proper care, a dental crown can last up to fifteen years, providing a durable and natural-looking solution to a variety of dental issues.
Dental crowns are a remarkable solution for restoring the health and appearance of your teeth. They are essentially tooth-shaped “caps” that are placed over a tooth to restore its shape, size, strength, and improve its appearance. They offer immediate improvements in tooth health and appearance, with their longevity influenced by material choice and aftercare adherence.
Why Dental Crowns?
Dental crowns are needed in a variety of situations. They are used to protect a weak tooth from breaking or to hold together parts of a cracked tooth. They can restore an already broken tooth or a tooth that has been severely worn down. They are also used to cover and support a tooth with a large filling when there isn’t a lot of tooth left. Dental crowns can also be used to hold a dental bridge in place, cover misshapen or severely discolored teeth, cover a dental implant, or make a cosmetic modification.
Types of Dental Crowns
There are several types of dental crowns available, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
- Gold crowns are a combination of copper and other metals, such as nickel or chromium. They are known for their strength and durability.
- All-porcelain crowns provide the best and most natural look. They match your surrounding teeth in shape, size, and color. However, they are not as strong as metal crowns and may be more costly.
- Porcelain Fused-to-Metal Crowns (PFM) provide both strength (due to their metal structure) and aesthetics (due to the porcelain coat that covers the cap).
- E-MAX: Lithium Disilicate Crowns are the newest type of crown in dentistry today. They are known for their great aesthetics and durability.
Lifespan of Dental Crowns
On average, dental crowns last between five and 15 years. The lifespan of a crown depends on the amount of “wear and tear” the crown is exposed to, how well you follow good oral hygiene practices, and your personal mouth-related habits. Factors affecting dental crown lifespans include oral hygiene, diet, and individual health conditions.
Dental Crown Maintenance
While a crowned tooth does not require any special care, remember that simply because a tooth is crowned does not mean the tooth is protected from decay or gum disease. Therefore, continue to follow good oral hygiene practices, including brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing daily — especially around the crown area where the gum meets the tooth — and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash at least once a day.
Cost of Dental Crowns
The cost of dental crowns can vary depending on the material used and the preparation required. For example, all porcelain crowns are in general more costly than metal ones. In general, a regular dental crown will cost between $1100 and $1500. However, prices will vary depending on the type of crown chosen.
Dental crowns are a transformative solution in dentistry, offering enhanced functionality and aesthetics. Understanding the types, procedure, and aftercare is crucial for optimal results. Always consult with your dentist to determine the best type of crown for your specific needs.