Facts You Need to Know Before Planning for Dental Crowns

During the course of our lives, it is common for us to indulge in many indiscretions when it comes to our teeth. We tend to use our teeth as tools to open plastic covers, biting nails, chewing on pens and pencils, and of course trying to show bravado by opening a can of soda or beer with teeth. The logical ending for all these actions would inevitably be a visit to a nearby dental clinic to get dental crowns placed on chipped teeth.

It is very common for people to have chipped, cracked, and fractured teeth. In fact, it is one of the most common complaints in a dental clinic. Our teeth are surprisingly strong, but we tend to overlook the fact that it is bone and is susceptible to break. We do a lot of things can damage our teeth.

According to many dental hospitals, people end up chipping their teeth as:

  • They bite down hard foods
  • Have cavities in their teeth
  • Do not follow proper dental care
  • They grind their teeth excessively (bruxism)
  • Have broken cusps
  • Wear and tear of teeth
  • Conditions like cracked tooth syndrome

In case there is a small chip that on the tooth, dental specialists may simply polish and smooth the tooth without going for further treatment. However, if the chip is of a considerable size with damage to the enamel or exposure of the tooth nerve, further treatment with root canal therapy and the placement of a dental crown is recommended. These treatments need a minimum of two visits to the dental clinic.

Dental crowns are a great option to protect weak teeth, to cover dental implants, and to give protection to broken teeth. There are a variety of dental crowns and the type needed is decided by dental doctors depending upon the nature of restoration needed. It is a procedure that is done in a dental clinic.

What are dental crowns?

Dental crowns are commonly termed as dental caps. Dental caps are fixed prosthesis placed over the existing tooth or an abutment of an implant to replace the size, shape, and strength of the tooth.

It mainly helps in restoring the functional ability of the tooth, and improving aesthetics in case of the front teeth. When the tooth is fractured and can no longer be restored with traditional cements, dental caps or crowns help in restoring the fractured tooth. Your dentist will advise you full coverage dental caps only when all other conservative treatments are not viable.

Why are dental crowns needed?

Dental crowns are an effective dental treatment when it comes to restoration of broken teeth. They support teeth that have decayed significantly or have worn off due to overuse. There are other dental problems that are solved by the placement of dental crowns. These include:

  • Fractured/chipped/cracked tooth: When your tooth is broken or fractured usually a dental crown is advised.
  • Dental cavity: When there is a big cavity in your tooth and there is no tooth left to support the large filling
  • Covering a dental implant: When you had an implant placed in your mouth to cover the abutment
  • For bridge treatment: When you are undergoing bridge treatment
  • Improving the appearance of teeth: When you are undergoing any cosmetic dental procedure

Sometimes, dental specialists advise dental caps for children who are at a high risk of caries (cavities), and those who have already undergone a pulpectomy treatment. Usually, in children stainless steel caps are placed.

What are the types of dental caps available?

There are various types of dental caps. Depending on the durability, there are temporary crowns and permanent crowns.

Temporary Crowns

Most of the temporary crowns are acrylic teeth. These are used in order to protect the tooth from shifting.  They are used as a temporary restoration until a permanent crown is delivered from the lab.

Permanent Crowns

Permanent crowns can be made from all metal, stainless steel, all ceramic, and porcelain fused metal.

Stainless steel dental crowns

These crowns are prefabricated and are used for children’s teeth. These crowns cover the entire tooth and prevent further decay. It is common for many people to have apprehensions of crowned milk teeth not allowing permanent teeth to erupt. Against popular belief, they will naturally come out with the fixed milk tooth when the permanent tooth is making its room. These crowns are used for children’s teeth because they don’t require multiple visits to the dental hospital, and are cost effective when compared to custom made crowns.

All Metal crowns

These crowns are usually made with cobalt-chromium and nickel-chromium alloys. Previously gold alloys were used. As gold is an expensive metal, it was not in regular use when compared to other alloys. The strength of the crowns is such that they can withstand all the chewing and biting forces. It has the longest wear and tear. A major drawback of these crowns is their metallic color, which may not appeal to many people’s tastes.

Porcelain fused metal crowns

These dental crowns can be color-matched to the natural teeth. These crowns are best advised for long bridges as metal is needed for the strength. They may be a good choice for both back and front tooth. Drawback of these dental crowns is that sometimes the porcelain chip offs exposing the metal inside. At times, the metal is visible as a dark line.

All ceramic crowns

These dental crowns provide better natural color match than any other crowns. They are highly recommended for patients who have certain allergic reactions to metals. They can be used for back or front teeth.

How many visits to the dental clinic for dental crown placement?

The procedure usually needs two visits to the dental clinic. The first visit would be for teeth preparation and taking measurements while the second visit is for fixing the permanent crown.

Dental Crown placement – First visit at dental clinic

During your first visit a thorough examination is done. At times, doctors may advise an x-ray to check the roots of the particular tooth and surrounding bone. If there is a deep dental decay, a root canal treatment is done first.

The dentist first anesthetizes the tooth for the comfort of the patient. Then he starts preparing the tooth. The amount of tooth removal depends on the type of crown chosen. If, a large portion of the tooth structure was lost due to decay then the dentist will place a post and eventually build up the tooth core. Then the impressions are made for both the arches. Proper shade match has to be done. Then the casts are sent to the lab. Now the dentist will make a temporary crown to cover and protect the prepared tooth till the placement of crown.

Dental Crown placement – Second visit at dental clinic

It is a short visit unlike the first visit. The temporary crown is removed from the tooth. The check for fit and color of the permanent crown is done. If everything is acceptable, then the permanent crown is permanently cemented to the tooth.

Durability of a dental crown

The life of the crown is normally from 5 to 15 years. The longevity of the dental cap depends on the precision fit of the cap to the supporting tooth structure. Other factors include oral hygiene practices, habits like grinding or clenching your teeth, chewing ice which also affects the longevity of the dental cap.

Capping the crown doesn’t mean that the tooth it is protected from decay and gum disease for life. Good oral hygiene practices should be followed in order to prevent the gum infections around the tooth.

Cost of dental crowns

Experienced dentists will help you in choosing the suitable dental crowns for your teeth. Depending on your need and affordability, the dentist will deliver the crowns. The cost of dental crowns varies a lot based on the material chosen. Generally, crowns may range from 5k to 20k (Indian Rupees) per crown. Gold crowns are more expensive.

If you have any other queries regarding dental crowns, please feel free to post your queries in the comment section.