Is a Crown in Your Future?
Do you regularly engage in combat or full contact sports? Without a mouth guard?
Do you have a particularly strong sweet tooth?
Does your home have hardwood or tiled flooring?
Do you have a fondness for smoking or dipping tobacco?
Do you have children that simply refuse to brush regularly?
The above questions are just a few of the conditions that may necessitate a dental crown. Whether you lose an incisor in a hockey match, crack a molar from chomping hard caramels, shatter a tooth upon falling onto your kitchen floor or discolor your teeth from frequent tobacco usage, a crown can cover up the issue and restore your smile. A crown may also be necessary in order to protect the baby teeth of young children until their adult teeth can develop.
Crowns intended for long-term use can be made from a variety of materials, with the severity of the tooth’s damage playing some factor in the patient’s options.
- Crowns made from metal and metallic alloys are commonly used for their durability and necessitating a minimal removal of tooth mass. One drawback of metallic crowns is their appearance; metallic crowns are extremely common in molars.
- When appearances need to be maintained, metallic crowns can be fused with shaded porcelain to match your smile. The drawbacks of these metal/porcelain crowns is they are only slightly more durable than porcelain, can wear down over time and a dark streak is noticeable around the gum line from their metal.
- While resin crowns are less durable and resilient than metallic crowns, they are among the cheaper options when a crown is necessary.
Even beyond the variety of material options, crowns can also be made as partial implants; these “onlays” and “3/4” crowns cover only a portion of a tooth. Barring zirconia or milled crowns, which can be made on-site in a single visit, crowns require two visits to the dentist.
- X-rays and possibly a preliminary root canal if the tooth’s pulp is at risk. The dentist anesthetizes the tooth’s area in order to file it down for fitting; if the tooth is greatly damaged, the dentist will use filler to anchor the crown. The dentist then makes a mold of the tooth. The dentist will then install a temporary acrylic crown.
- Your dentist removes the acrylic crown, checks the permanent crown and cements it under anesthetic.
While a crown may seem like the perfect solution, there are a handful of issues that may crop up after their installations.
- Discomfort/sensitivity. The tooth may feel tender or especially reactive to temperatures. Pain or sensitivity from biting down is a sign of a misfit and you should call your dentist immediately to fix it.
- Porcelain crowns can chip.
- Loosening or falling out. Cement can sometimes wash out, leaving the crown loose and open enough for bacteria to slip in. Crowns can fall out when there is a poor fit, improper cement or only a minimal amount of tooth to cover.
- Allergies. In rare cases, metallic and porcelain crowns run the risk of agitating allergies.
Be mindful that crowns are more like a prolonged “band-aid” for the dental issue. And crowned teeth are also still at risk for decay and gum disease. You should maintain a regimen of brushing twice daily, usually accompanied with some mouth wash…and always remember to floss!