A missing tooth or damaged tooth can be replaced with a crown, a tooth-like cap. Dental crowns can either cover a damaged tooth or be placed over a dental implant. Ideally, a crown will be aesthetically pleasing and will improve the look of your smile by filling in any gaps due to missing teeth or by making your existing teeth look more aligned.
There are different types of crowns available which vary in materials and appearance. Some materials are better suited for teeth that see a lot of wear and tear. The location of the crown and the material used to make it play a part in determining how long the crown will last and when you will need to replace it.
Materials used for crowns include: Zirconia base with porcelain layered on top, all zirconia, and lithium dislocate (Emax).
Types of Crowns
If you’ve ever seen a flash of gold in a person’s mouth when he or she smiled, it’s probably because that person has a gold crown. Metal alloys, including gold, are sometimes used to make dental crowns. Metal crowns are more durable than other materials, so they will most likely last longer. A metal alloy, whether it’s gold nickel or palladium, is commonly used on the back teeth, as those teeth see the most wear and tear, due to chewing. The big drawback of metal alloy crowns for some people is that they don’t look like an actual tooth.
Porcelain over metal crowns or all-porcelain crowns offer a more natural look. Your dentist can tint the crown to match the color of the rest of your teeth, for example. Porcelain over metal crowns are more durable then all porcelain crowns, but in some cases the metal can be visible beneath the porcelain, making the crown look dark. Both all porcelain and porcelain over metal crowns can cause wear and tear on the teeth next to the crown, which is less common with metal crowns.
Dental crowns can also be made of stainless steel, acrylic or resin. Typically, steel and acrylic crowns are meant to be temporary. You wear them while waiting for your permanent crown to be prepared by a lab. Resin crowns might not be temporary, but they tend to have a shorter lifespan than porcelain or metal, as the material is not as hard-wearing.
Care for the Crown
Your dental crown might not be a real tooth, and the actual tooth that was there might be completely gone. But, you still want to care for your crown as you would a real tooth, to prolong its life and to keep the surrounding teeth healthy. Brush your teeth, including the crown, at least twice a day, and floss at least once a day.
It’s also a good idea to treat your crown gently to extend its life. Avoid biting down or chewing on hard objects, such as ice or rock candy. Don’t use your teeth to tear open packages, break the plastic tags off of new clothing or to bite your nails.
Signs of Wear and Tear
The typical lifespan of a dental crown is between five and 20 years. But, if you take care of your crown, you can get many more years of use out of it. The location of the crown also determines how long it will last. Crowns on your back teeth are more likely to wear out quickly while a front tooth crown can last considerably longer.
Crowns can break down in several ways. If the crown is made of porcelain, there is the risk that it will chip or break. In some cases, your dentist can repair a cracked or chipped crown, without having to install a new one.
Cement holds the crown in place, either to the old tooth or to the implant. It’s possible for the cement to wash away over time. Your crown might feel loose or it might fall out if the cement is gone. Depending on the wear on the crown, your dentist might replace it entirely or re-cement it in place.
Replacing the Crown
Even if your crown is in relatively good shape, you might decide to have your dentist replace it. For example, you might decide to trade your gold crown in for a more natural-looking porcelain crown. Along with the health and appearance of your teeth, there are several things to consider when replacing your crown, including the cost of the new crown and the impact it will have on your surrounding teeth.
Drs. Gallardo and Lamas offer skilled implant dentistry in the Miami area. If you have any questions or concerns about the crown in your mouth or about replacing a damaged tooth with an implant and crown, contact their office at (305) 447-1447 to schedule a consultation.