Dental crowns play a crucial role in restoring the function and aesthetics of damaged or weakened teeth. They are tooth-shaped caps that are placed over the entire tooth structure to provide strength, protection and improve appearance. There are various types of dental crowns available, including metal crowns, ceramic crowns, porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns and zirconia crowns, each offering unique advantages and suitability based on individual needs.
The crown placement procedure typically involves two separate appointments, with a temporary crown being placed on prepared teeth initially while the permanent crown is fabricated in a dental laboratory. At Dental Designs, we offer same day crowns where the permanent crown is fabricated in a single day using CAD-CAM technology!
Not only does a crown add strength to a tooth, it can also correct bite misalignments and protect a tooth after root canal treatment. However, some patients opt for these types of dental crowns purely for cosmetic purposes, that is to correct teeth that are stained, too small, or misshaped.
What are the factors that determine how long dental crowns last?
While dental crowns today are extremely strong and durable, they are not likely to last an entire tooth or lifetime. On an average lifespan per natural teeth, most dental crowns last between 5-15 years before needing to be replaced or repaired. This duration appears rather vast and vague because the longevity of dental crowns depends on a few factors, including:
- Location of the tooth
- Condition of the original tooth
- Pressure and harmful habits on the crowned tooth from grinding, clenching or chewing on hard objects
- Proper oral hygiene
- Material of the crown used (gold crowns are the strongest but may not be aesthetically pleasing due to their metallic golden appearance. The next best option in terms of strength, durability and aesthetic appearance would be porcelain crowns or zirconia crowns1)
- Skill of the dentist/installation of the crown
- Manufacture of the crown
- Periodontal health like gum disease
- Full or partial crown
- External trauma due to accidents
Based on the list above, many factors go into the longevity of dental crown procedures, which explains the 5-15 year estimation. However, studies show that when used for the right dental problems and installed properly by an experienced dentist, dental crowns can last for decades or even longer. This includes crowns that are manufactured well with the appropriate materials and cared for diligently by the dental laboratory and the patient.
With proper care and maintenance, dental crowns can last for many years, providing long-lasting functionality and aesthetics. Patients are advised to practice proper oral hygiene, including regular brushing, flossing, and routine dental check-ups, to help extend the lifespan of their dental crowns and prevent complications such as tooth decay or gum disease around the crowned tooth.
A 2013 study2 that tracked the success rate of over 2,300 PFM crowns restored by the same specialist showed that 97% of those crowns lasted over a decade, and 85% of crown lasted for 25 years. This goes to show that with proper crown materials, manufacturing, professional and proper care, and oral hygiene, the chances of a permanent crown and long-term success are very high.
How to tell if your dental crown needs to be replaced?
Over time, dental crowns may show signs of wear or damage, such as a loose crown or tooth decay around the crowned tooth. Patients should be vigilant in monitoring their oral health and report any discomfort or changes to their dentist promptly. In cases where a crown falls out or feels loose, it is essential to seek immediate dental attention to prevent further damage to the underlying tooth structure. Depending on the extent of damage, the dentist may recommend re-cementing the crown or replacing it with a new one.
In some cases, it will be obvious that the patient needs their dental crown replaced because it has either fallen out or suffered extensive damage. However, there are instances where it is less obvious there are problems with a crown. Usually, there will be a few symptoms or indicators. It is important not to ignore them as doing so could cause pain, discomfort, and even dental issues down the road. Such instances include:
Your bite does Not seem normal or it feels “off”
When your new crown is first put on, your bite should feel normal. If over time your bite changes or starts to feel uneven, then it’s probably a sign that your crown is wearing off and metal crown needs to be adjusted or replaced.
Your gums around the crowned tooth are receding
If you notice receding gums around your crowned tooth, it could mean that the crown or the damaged tooth was not placed properly or that you have gum disease and need to seek treatment with your dentist.
Your Dental crown has been around for many years
Usually, crowns that are older than five years are more likely to run into issues due to wear and tear. It is recommended to have your crowns checked at least twice a year by your dentist to make sure everything is functioning properly.
You experience pain
Porcelain crowns or porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns can sometimes suffer external damage due to everyday use or pressure by bruxism. When dental crowns chip or crack, the underlying tooth may be exposed, causing pain, tenderness, or swelling. Once this happens, it is imperative to fix the crown as soon as possible to protect the underlying tooth. Depending on the damage, the cracked tooth crown can be easily repaired with some quick adjustments or a replacement may be needed.
How can I ensure longevity through proper care?
In cases where a dental crown feels loose or falls off, it is essential to visit the dentist's office promptly for re-cementation or replacement to avoid further damage to the underlying tooth. While dental crowns can effectively restore function and enhance the smile for many years, it is important to remember that they are not immune to wear and tear and may require maintenance or replacement over time to ensure optimal oral health and longevity. Apart from choosing an experienced and knowledgeable dentist, it is up to you to take care of your dental permanent crowns through proper lifestyle and oral hygiene habits.
Metal crowns, such as gold crowns or PFM crowns, are known for their durability and strength, making them suitable for use in the posterior or out-of-sight molars. On the other hand, ceramic crowns, including Zirconia crowns, which have a hard inner core of zirconium dioxide, offer excellent aesthetics, closely resembling natural teeth in appearance and colour. While both types of crowns can last for many years with proper care, patients should consult with their dentist to determine the most suitable material based on their individual needs and preferences.
The lifespan of dental crowns can vary depending on various factors, including material choice, location in the mouth, and patient oral hygiene habits. With regular dental care and maintenance, including proper oral hygiene practices and routine dental check-ups, dental crowns can provide durable and aesthetically pleasing solutions for restoring damaged teeth. By working closely with your dentist and following their recommendations, patients can ensure that their dental crowns last for many years, providing long-term functionality and confidence in their smiles.
- Li, R., Wang, Y., Hu, M., Wang, Y., Xv, Y., Liu, Y., & Sun, Y. (2019). Strength and Adaptation of Stereolithography-Fabricated Zirconia Dental Crowns: An In Vitro Study. The International journal of prosthodontics, 32(5), 439–443. https://doi.org/10.11607/ijp.6262
- Walton T. R. (2013). The up to 25-year survival and clinical performance of 2,340 high gold-based metal-ceramic single crowns. The International journal of prosthodontics, 26(2), 151–160. https://doi.org/10.11607/ijp.3136