Dental crowns, while widely recognized for their restorative benefits, also have potential drawbacks that patients should consider. This article provides a data-driven exploration of the disadvantages of dental crowns, offering detailed insights for those weighing their dental treatment options.
Understanding Dental Crowns
A dental crown is a custom-fitted tooth prosthetic that is used to cover a damaged tooth. They are often recommended for restoring a tooth’s shape, size, and strength and improving its appearance. If your teeth are weak, eroded, cracked, or otherwise damaged, sometimes the best possible solution is a dental crown.
Why dental crowns?
Dental crowns can be used to:
- Protect a weak or damaged tooth
- Reinforce a bridge
- Improve the shape and color of a tooth
- Prevent denture-like slipping
- Improve diction and enunciation
- Relieve dental pain or discomfort
- Boost confidence with a complete set of teeth
Common Materials Used
Dental crowns can be made from a variety of materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages:
- Gold Crowns: These are a combination of copper and other metals, such as nickel or chromium. The main advantage of gold crowns is their strength and durability.
- Porcelain or Ceramic Crowns: These 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): These crowns provide both strength (due to their metal structure) and aesthetics (due to the porcelain coat that covers the cap). However, the metal in these crowns may cause a grey line at the gumline.
- Zirconia Crowns: These crowns are known for their durability and aesthetic appeal.
- E-MAX: Lithium Disilicate Crowns: The newest type of crown in dentistry today is known as E-Max. It is a type of all-ceramic crown made of lithium disilicate, which is also light and thin.
Potential Disadvantages of Dental Crowns
Dental crowns, while a popular and effective solution for damaged teeth, come with their own set of potential drawbacks. Understanding these can help you make an informed decision about your dental health.
Longevity and Durability Issues
Dental crowns typically last between 5 and 15 years, depending on the material and care. However, the lifespan of a crown can be influenced by several factors, including the type of material used, oral hygiene, and the patient’s bite strength. For instance, base metal amalgam crowns are very durable and can last for an average of 22.5 years, while ceramic or porcelain crowns, which match the natural color of teeth, can last for about 5 to 10 years.
Wear and Tear
Crowns are subject to wear, especially in patients with bruxism, a condition characterized by teeth grinding. Certain materials, like metal alloy dental crowns, can withstand regular wear and tear, including teeth grinding, and rarely chip.
Dental crowns are a significant investment, with prices varying based on material and location. The materials used to construct your dental crown have a big impact on how much they cost. Common materials include gold, porcelain fused to a gold base, all porcelain, or ceramic.
Maintenance and Replacement Costs
Long-term maintenance can add to the financial burden. Costs also vary considerably when patients need to have additional dental work performed before the dentist can place the crown.
Oral Health Complications
Tooth Sensitivity and Discomfort
Some patients experience increased sensitivity or discomfort post-procedure. This can occur if the crown does not completely fit over the entire tooth, leaving some dentin exposed at the gum line.
Risk of Decay
If the crown is improperly fitted, the underlying tooth can be susceptible to decay. If plaque and tartar are allowed to accumulate on the junction between the crown and natural tooth, it can put the tooth at further risk of bacterial growth and decay.
Aesthetic and Functional Limitations
Over time, the color of the crown may not match the surrounding teeth, particularly with porcelain crowns. While porcelain and ceramic crowns almost perfectly match the natural color of teeth, they can chip or crack, and they might irritate or wear down surrounding teeth.
Gum Tissue Response
In some cases, gum tissues do not respond favorably to crowns, leading to aesthetic concerns. A dental crown can potentially irritate the neighboring gum tissue, leading to inflammation and gum recession, which can cause pain and sensitivity.
Tooth Damage During Fitting
The process of fitting a crown involves reshaping the existing tooth, which can sometimes lead to damage. Before a crown can be placed over a tooth, the natural tooth has to be reshaped to accommodate the crown. During this process, the enamel is shaved down and the tooth’s dentin is exposed.
An improperly fitted crown can lead to discomfort, bite misalignment, and other oral health issues. If your crown doesn’t seem to fit quite right or feels abrasive when you bite down, then it’s important to schedule an exam.
While dental crowns can be a great solution for damaged teeth, it’s important to be aware of the potential disadvantages. Always consult with your dentist to discuss the best course of treatment for your specific needs.
While dental crowns are a popular and often necessary dental treatment, it’s important to be aware of their potential disadvantages. Patients should discuss these factors with their dentists to make an informed decision that aligns with their dental health needs and expectations.