If you have a tooth that’s chipped, cracked or damaged in some way that normal fillings or dental veneers cannot restore, then dental crowns could be an excellent option. There are many advantages to dental crowns, but as with every treatment in dentistry, this restorative procedure comes with its own set of disadvantages as well depending on whether it’s suited for you.
What are dental crowns?
Let’s start off by briefly covering what dental crowns are. Dental crowns are prosthetic devices that cap over and cover cracked, discoloured, decayed or misaligned teeth. They are also commonly used to protect a vulnerable cracked tooth after root canal treatment or to restore dental implants, another procedure that helps restore missing teeth.
Dental crowns are commonly used to restore and protect damaged or weakened teeth, providing a durable and aesthetically pleasing solution. When a tooth is extensively decayed, cracked or broken, a dental crown may be recommended by the dentist to cover the entire tooth and restore its strength and function. The crown procedure typically involves multiple steps, starting with the preparation of the tooth receiving the crown. During this process, the tooth is shaped to accommodate the crown, and any decay or damage is removed. A temporary crown may be placed to protect the prepared tooth while the permanent crown is fabricated in a dental laboratory using computer-aided design (CAD) technology.Do not confuse dental tooth crowns with veneers. While both serve to improve your smile, crowns carry added functional purposes that veneers do not. You may read more on the differences between dental crowns and dental veneers here.
Temporary crowns serve as placeholders until the final crown is ready, usually within two to three weeks. These temporary crowns are designed to provide protection and maintain the aesthetics of the smile until the permanent crown can be placed. However, temporary crowns may feel loose or become dislodged due to personal mouth-related habits or chewing forces. In such cases, it's essential to contact the dentist's office immediately to address the issue and prevent further damage to the underlying tooth.
What are the advantages of dental crowns?
The main advantages of dental crowns include:
Improve the appearance of your teeth
Dental crowns can help reshape and improve the colour of your teeth. With advances in restorative dentistry like CEREC technology, crowns are now custom-made according to your unique face shape, bite and natural teeth. Patients can also choose from their desired material, with the most popular being porcelain crowns and ceramic crowns due to their lifelike appearance. Porcelain crowns are also much more stain-resistant compared to white filling or composite. The best part? You can get your crowns on the same day (same day crowns) with the equal amount of quality without waiting 2 weeks and the need for a temporary dental crown.
Protection and support
As aforementioned, both veneers and crowns do a good job in correcting any cosmetic flaws on your teeth. But if your need for dental restoratives stem from bigger issues like tooth decay, then crowns can provide the help veneers cannot. Think of dental crowns as tooth-shaped hats — because of the protection it gives the weak tooth, the tooth can gain its strength back without becoming further damaged. Crowns can also protect a tooth from further decay. This explains why final crowns are often put in place after someone undergoes root canal treatment.
Dental crowns can be used to restore a tooth back to its original size and shape. In fact, this types of dental crowns restoration is necessary when all the adjacent teeth are not coming together as they should as not fixing it could lead to biting issues down the road. With crowns, the patient can have a fully functioning mouth and eat and speak normally.
When placed over teeth, dental crowns will not shift, unlike dentures which tend to have some movement. This means crowns are a lot more comfortable compared to dentures. In addition, porcelain-fused-to-metal or resin crowns are often used to cover dental implants, which are dental prostheses used to replace missing teeth.
Studies show that dental crowns last longer than any other dental restoration, with an average lifespan of 5-15 years. Why this big gap? There’s a lot of factors that come into play. Our article on the longevity of dental crowns will explain more.
What are the disadvantages of dental crowns?
To prepare an entire tooth for a dental crown, some filing down is needed to get the tooth into the right shape. This process is often extensive and irreversible — so once a tooth is prepared for a crown, it WILL need a dental crown and there’s no going back.
Some patients may experience some sensitivity to hot and cold shortly after the dental crown procedure, but this is not uncommon. Using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth can help reduce this. Some patients may also experience pain or sensitivity when biting down, but this is usually caused by a crown that’s too high which obstructs the teeth on the opposite jaw. Adjusting the height of the crown at your dentist can easily solve this issue.
In some patients, the crown can become loose or even fall off completely, exposing the tooth to bacteria and potentially resulting in tooth decay. However, this only happens if your crown is done by an inexperienced or negligent dentist.
Dental crowns tend to be more expensive compared to other tooth restorations which may put some patients off. But we encourage patients to see this as long term investments for their teeth, and a one-time procedure is better than multiple treatments or even running the risk of losing their affected tooth entirely.
Permanent crowns come in various materials, including metal, ceramic, or porcelain-fused-to-metal, offering different benefits and aesthetics. Metal crowns, such as those made of gold or zirconia, are known for their strength and durability, rarely chipping even under significant chewing forces. On the other hand, ceramic crowns provide a tooth-colored option that blends seamlessly with natural teeth, making them ideal for front and back teeth. Metal allergies should be considered when selecting the crown type, as some individuals may be sensitive to certain materials.
Maintaining good oral health is crucial for the longevity of dental crowns. Regular brushing, flossing, and the use of anti-bacterial mouthwash can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which can compromise the integrity of the crown. Additionally, avoiding chewy foods or habits that put excessive strain on the crown can help prevent issues like a loose crown or chipped crown.
Overall, dental crowns offer a reliable and long-lasting solution for restoring damaged teeth and preserving oral health. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of dental crowns, but we recommend discussing your options with your dentist to ensure you get the best possible treatment. If you need any advice, our dentists are happy to help.
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- Mitchell, C. A., & Orr, J. F. (2005). Engineering properties and performance of dental crowns. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Part H, Journal of engineering in medicine, 219(4), 245–255. https://doi.org/10.1243/095441105X34248