A dental crown is a fixed prosthetic device that serves as a replacement tooth. As opposed to removable devices (like dentures), dental crowns are cemented onto existing teeth or dental implants, fully encasing the entire visible portion of your tooth that lies above your gum line.
Essentially, dental crowns are tooth-shaped caps. These are placed over a tooth, in effect covering it, and improving its appearance (to look like a real tooth), as well as its size, strength, and function in daily life.
Why do you need a dental crown?
There are several reasons why you may choose to get a dental crown, but we can group these into two main reasons: function and aesthetics.
At some point, your tooth’s structural integrity might be greatly compromised, such as when a crack forms, a cavity has developed, or maybe a significant portion has been chipped off that it couldn’t function properly anymore.Dental crowns help restore a single tooth and serve to strengthen it somehow by giving it additional support. They’re also used when your teeth have had a significant amount of filling, or after a root canal treatment.
- AestheticsThere are also cases when you’d like to improve the appearance of your tooth, such as the case when there are hard-to-remove stains and discolorations, or when they’re crooked.Dental crowns serve as a facade for teeth like these, as the cap goes over the cosmetically challenged tooth to give it a more natural look.
How do crowns work?
A crown works like a cap, covering a damaged, misshapen, or a weak tooth.
They are usually permanent fixtures (see below) although temporary caps may be fashioned for your use if you’re going through an extensive dental procedure (such as when you’re having dental implants) or while you’re waiting for your real dental crowns to arrive from the laboratory.
What is a dental crown and bridge?
Dental crowns are also commonly used alongside dental bridges, which are fashioned to close the gap created by one or more missing teeth.
Each end of the dental bridge is secured by a dental crown, which is fixed to two or more anchoring teeth, with a false tooth (or teeth) in between, forming the actual bridge.
Is a dental crown permanent?
In most cases, yes, it is. You can categorize dental crowns into two types: permanent and temporary.
It’s probably more accurate to say that permanent crowns last for many years and are meant to stay in place for just as long.
Different materials can be used to make permanent crowns, each with their own pros and cons.
On the other hand, temporary dental crowns are employed typically in the meantime while your permanent crowns are being prepared in a dental laboratory, or when your teeth are going through an extended procedure that would necessitate working on the area of your tooth until its completion (such as the case when your specialist is working on your dental implants).
Temporary crowns may be made right at your dentist’s office, or there may be some available prefabricated units ready for use.
How long do dental crowns last?
As mentioned, there are different types of dental crowns that can be used on your teeth. Various materials are employed, and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Understandably, temporary crowns are made of low-cost materials and aren’t really built to last. On the other hand, permanent dental crowns have a lot more durability and longevity, and as such can last for a lifetime with good care and maintenance.
What are dental crowns made of?
Materials commonly used to create dental crowns include:
Of the four, metal is arguably the strongest material and can be made of either gold alloys, cobalt-chromium alloy, or nickel-chromium alloy.
While metal crowns can withstand a greater amount of crushing force, the metallic color does stand out and so it is typically used in the back (as in the case of molars). Additionally, some people might be allergic to some of these metals and can cause a reaction.
Resin crowns, on the other hand, have a relatively lower cost compared to other materials. But they are quite convenient, as some dentists can even prepare these crowns at the clinic as you wait.
Resin crowns do wear down more easily than metal, porcelain, or ceramic, and might even chip or break when you bite down strongly on hard food.
The main advantage of porcelain or ceramic crowns is that they closely resemble real teeth. In addition to being sturdy (though not as strong as metal), they are the perfect choice for front teeth.
On the flipside, these crowns are fairly pricey. In some cases, they might even wear down the opposing teeth more than metal or resin crowns.
Are dental crowns expensive?
You might be expected to pay anywhere from $500 to $2,000 for a dental crown.
As mentioned, an all-porcelain or all-ceramic dental crown might be on the more costly side compared to, say, a resin crown, or even a nickel-chromium crown.
Costs will vary, depending on the expertise of your dentist and/or lab technician, materials used for your dental crown, and so forth. Your insurance might cover part of the expense, but you’ll have to check as this may vary with each carrier and plan.
However, we recommend you work with your dentist. Some clinics might have payment schemes available, or your specialist might have a more suitable dental crown solution for you given your budget limitations.
Do dental crowns hurt?
A minimal amount of pain is expected in a dental crown procedure.
Your dentist may administer some local anesthetic while working on getting your tooth restored and preparing your dental crown.
After the procedure, and the anesthesia has worn off, it is possible you might feel sensitivity with your temporary crown or maybe some soreness in the gums around your tooth. It might be really more of slight discomfort, however, rather than pain, and it isn’t expected to last long.
Are crowns dental implants?
No, they are not.
Dental implants are generally attached to, or grafted to the jawbone, and is a fairly extensive procedure that might last several sessions. Crowns, on the other hand, are generally non-invasive and don’t take as long.
Temporary dental crowns, however, may be given to you in the course of your dental implant procedure. Also, more elaborate dental bridges might require dental implants to support it, rather than just relying on anchoring dental crowns.
A Final Word
With a dental crown, your existing tooth is made to look and feel like a real tooth.
As it fits over your tooth like a cap (hence, a “crown”), a dental crown is non-invasive, customized accordingly to fit your teeth, and may be expected to cause a bit of discomfort at first, perhaps, but very little in the way of pain.
Different materials can be used to make dental crowns, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
For more information on what options you have available for your dental crown procedures, consult your dentist. With a thorough assessment of your needs, they can give you the best recommendations on what sort of crowns to use for your teeth (or tooth).