Dental Crowns Up-Close
Dental crowns have quite a history to tell. Oh, how wonderful it was when dentists kept your tooth in place with a filling instead of altogether removing it. While the process of filling a tooth still seems grueling, it was far less threatening than a tooth extraction. Many of us fear to go to the dentist because of the perceived agony caused by tooth extraction.
When dentists applied tooth fillings more and more, the horror subsided a bit. But for those teeth that fillings cannot save, extraction becomes inevitable. And as dental technology innovates and finds more ways to ease patients who need relief from a toothache or a damaged tooth, root canals, dental bridges, and dental crowns found their places in the option for dental treatment. Today, we zero in on dental crowns.
What are they? What is the difference between a dental crown and a regular filling? Why would anyone opt for dental crowns considering the cost compared to other options for dental repair?
Dental crowns are also known as dental caps. They are caps shaped like teeth. Dentists have long utilized dental crowns as a favored form of artificial restoration. A dentist places a dental crown over a badly chipped or damaged tooth to restore the shape, size, and appearance of the tooth it covers. It preserves the remaining tooth and protects it from further damage.
Once the dentist finds it fit, he cements the dental crown into the remaining tooth. This makes the dental crown a strong, permanent fix for a broken tooth instead of losing it to further decay. With gaps and cracks on teeth, plaque can weave its way further into the teeth. Dental crowns eliminate this possibility. They secure the cracks and gaps to help keep away cavities and restore your smile. Aside from the aesthetic advantage, dental crowns have a greater purpose. They support the basic function of the tooth to bite and chew.
Who needs dental crowns?
We’ve covered how dental crowns help preserve and protect pearly white teeth. Now, who qualifies for a dental crown procedure? As we have established in the previous paragraph, individuals who basically have teeth severely damaged by cavities.
Since tooth decay exempts no one, does that make both children and adults candidates for dental crowns?
The answer is yes. For children, dental crowns may be applied to save a primary tooth that’s so damaged, it can’t support a filling. Oral hygiene is tougher to maintain on young kids, especially toddlers. This makes it all the more necessary to ensure protection for the teeth at high risk for tooth decay. In most cases, for children, dentists would recommend stainless steel crowns as a temporary measure. As children mostly have primary teeth, these stainless steel crowns would simply come out naturally when the primary tooth is ready to go and make way for the permanent tooth.
Now, adults have a greater need for dental crowns than children. Permanent teeth, when gone, are gone forever. This makes it imperative for adults to take measures to save a damaged tooth sooner than later.
Primarily, an adult needs a dental crown to protect a weak tooth from breaking. For instance, if a tooth is cracked, bacteria gleefully finds a place to call a habitat in that crack.
This makes way for tooth decay, quite inevitable. To prevent this from happening, dentists recommend a dental crown over the cracked tooth to hold it together, prevent it from breaking, and cover the cracked parts to keep cavities from forming. Time does things to our teeth that are sometimes hard to go against.
Dentists try to keep up with the damage of a broken or worn-down tooth by mounting a fine dental crown in its place. At times, a tooth with a huge hole, leaving a very small part of tooth left needs a crown more than a filling. Dental crowns cover and support the remaining tooth and prolong its life. Dental crowns also hold dental bridges in place.
In other cases, dental crowns are used to cover a dental implant or a tooth that underwent a root canal. Either way, the dental crown covers the hole to keep cavities away.
For other purposes like cosmetic modification or aesthetics, dental crowns also happen to provide a solution for discolored or badly shaped teeth.
For the most part, children and adults alike should be nothing but grateful for the option of having a dental crown in place of more risk for cavities and tooth loss.
Dental Crown: The Making
How do dentists make dental crowns? Surely, these wonders do not just pop out of the dentistry overnight. What are they made of and how are they formed to perfectly match the shape of the tooth? There are different types of dental crowns. The type that you need determines the material the dentist will use to form your dental crown.
Earlier we have mentioned stainless steel crowns, so let’s start with this. Stainless steel crowns are easily and quickly assembled. Thus, dentists prefer to apply this to kids’ primary teeth and to adults’ teeth as a temporary crown. This allows the dentist to work on a sturdier crown using another material that we will discuss later on in this article.
Other crowns take a longer time to assemble, so dentists opt to place a stainless steel crown first to protect the tooth and prevent decay from forming while waiting for the permanent crown.
Stainless steel crowns can be installed in one dental visit. They are less pricey compared to other custom-made crowns.
Some dental crowns contain metal. Metal crowns are sturdier as they are made of gold, platinum, or base-metal alloys that can withstand friction and pressure. Because of its component, metal crowns last the longest compared to all other dental crowns. Biting and chewing cannot wear it down easily. The only pain point of this dental crown is its obvious visibility because of its color.
If the problem area is one of the front teeth, metal crowns are not the best options in sight. They are best, though for molars deep in the mouth that are not so visible and are often used for grinding and chewing.
There are also dental crowns made of a mix of porcelain and metal. These are the ones that dentists can color-match with your teeth. This mix can look more like normal teeth and are sturdy, too. The downside to this, however, is it wears out the teeth beside it. In time, the porcelain part may also chip off or break off.
Apart from that, the metal part of the crown may show as a thin line at the gum line or as the gums start to recede. So, why do dentists use this mix of materials?
Well, these crowns are great for long bridges on the front and back teeth where the strength of metal keeps the crown on and the aesthetic purpose of porcelain plays its part, too.
Now let’s talk about resin-made crowns. Resin dental crowns are typically less costly compared to other crown types. They also look like your teeth, but the low cost comes with a trade-off that resin-made crowns wear down more easily than other material.
If you want a heavy-duty and longer-lasting dental crown compared to the resin crown, the all-ceramic or all-porcelain comes as a preferable option. Apart from appearing as natural as your teeth, they are great and more durable, so they can be used for both front and back teeth.
Dental Crown: The Making
Now let’s take a closer look at how dental crowns are created. As earlier stated, the placement of a dental crown usually takes two visits to the dentist. As the dentist examines the tooth and prepares it for the placement of a crown, he or she takes x-rays to get a good view of the roots and the surrounding bones of the receiving tooth.
This is considered SOP and if you’ve read our blog on root canals, this step is also what dentists take to determine if a root canal is needed before the dental crown is installed. On this first visit, the dentist numbs the area around the tooth with anesthesia. The dentist needs to file down the tooth to make room for the crown.
If there is very little of the tooth left, the dentist fills the area instead to build up the tooth. Following this procedure, the dentist gets the shape of the tooth using a putty. The more advanced technology utilizes a dental scanner instead of the conventional paste or putty. The dentist takes impressions of the tooth above the receiving tooth, too, to ensure that the “new tooth” — the crown will not affect your bite.
It usually takes two to three weeks to create the custom-made dental crown. Porcelain-made crowns take a bit longer as the dentist has to select the color that matches your teeth.
This is why dentists place a stainless steel or acrylic crowns on your tooth in the interim as temporary crowns while they work on your custom-made crowns. When your tooth is ready to receive the permanent crown, you see your dentist again for him or her to cement your new crown in place.
FAQ: How long do dental crowns serve their purpose?
Generally, the average dental crown lasts for five to fifteen years. Wear and tear depend on the material used on the crown and the amount of usage it is exposed to. Given that you follow proper oral hygiene consistently, your dental crown is highly likely to survive the normal wear and tear.
However, if you grind or clench your teeth often or chew ice and other hard food, or if you have a habit of biting your fingernails, you may just be robbing your dental crown of the lifespan it can normally last.
Get our thoughts on Dental Crowns
Get your dental crowns from the best in Iowa. Visit our Urbandale clinic or get an appointment at 2333 McKinley Ave Des Moines, IA 50321. Got any questions about dental crowns or need any help with what you have? Visit www.dmdentalgroup.com or call us at 515-512-5377 or 515-512-5339.