Dental Crowns: Types, Benefits, and How They Improve Your Smile
by Dental Spa of Texas
As a dentist at Dental Spa of Texas, I often encounter patients who want to improve their smiles and maintain optimal oral health. In many cases, dental crowns are an essential component of a comprehensive dental treatment plan. In this blog post, I’ll discuss the different types of dental crowns, their benefits, and how they can enhance your smile. Whether you need a crown to protect a damaged tooth or improve the aesthetics of your smile, understanding your options will help you make an informed decision.
What are Dental Crowns?
Dental crowns, also known as dental caps, are custom-made restorations that completely cover a damaged or weakened tooth to restore its size, shape, and strength. Made from various materials such as porcelain, metal alloys, and ceramics, they are designed to blend with the appearance of your natural teeth to provide a visually pleasing result.
Uses of Dental Crowns
Dental crowns are primarily used in situations where I find that:
- A tooth is severely damaged and cannot be restored with a filling.
- A tooth has undergone a root canal treatment and needs protection from further damage.
- A dental implant requires a crown to replace the missing tooth.
- A dental bridge needs support while replacing missing teeth.
- A severely discolored or misshapen tooth requires cosmetic enhancement.
Types of Dental Crowns
There are several types of dental crowns available, each with their own unique properties and benefits. The most suitable type of dental crown depends on your specific dental condition, aesthetic preferences, and budget. I’ll take you through some of the most common types of dental crowns and their properties.
Metal crowns are often made of gold, platinum, or base metal alloys like chromium and nickel. They are highly durable and resistant to wear and tear, making them a suitable option for replacing teeth in the back of the mouth where force during chewing is higher.
Pros and Cons of Metal Crowns
- High durability and longevity.
- Require less removal of the tooth structure.
- Resistant to wear and less likely to cause wear on opposite teeth.
- The metallic appearance may not be aesthetically pleasing for some patients.
- Some individuals might have allergies or sensitivities to certain metals.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns have been a popular choice for many years. They combine the strength and durability of metal with the natural appearance of porcelain. PFM crowns are ideal for cases where additional support is needed, such as for bridgework or in areas with high biting forces.
Pros of Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Crowns
- Aesthetics: PFM crowns offer a natural look, blending easily with surrounding teeth.
- Durability: The metal base provides added strength, making them a good option for molars and other high-stress areas.
- Compatibility: PFM crowns can be used with both dental implants and natural teeth, making them a versatile option.
Cons of Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Crowns
- Potential for Porcelain Chipping: The porcelain component of PFM crowns can sometimes chip, exposing the metal underneath.
- Possible Wear on the Opposing Teeth: PFM crowns may cause more wear on natural teeth than all-ceramic options due to the metal component.
- Metal Allergies: Some patients may have a sensitivity or allergy to the metal used in these crowns, causing irritation or discomfort.
Overall, PFM crowns offer a good balance of strength and aesthetics. However, due to some potential drawbacks, it’s important to discuss your options with your dentist to determine the best solution for your individual case.
All-ceramic crowns are made entirely from dental ceramic materials such as porcelain or ceramic-based composites. They offer excellent aesthetics and are ideal for front teeth or for patients with metal allergies. In recent years, advances in dental materials have increased the durability of all-ceramic crowns, making them a viable option for many patients.
Pros of All-Ceramic Crowns
- Superior Aesthetics: All-ceramic crowns provide the most lifelike appearance, closely mimicking the natural translucency and color of tooth enamel.
- Biocompatibility: These crowns are metal-free, making them a good option for patients with metal allergies or sensitivities.
- Minimal Tooth Removal: All-ceramic crowns typically require less tooth removal than PFM crowns during preparation.
Cons of All-Ceramic Crowns
- Potential for Breakage: All-ceramic crowns may not be as durable as PFM or metal crowns, particularly in areas with high biting forces.
- Longevity: While advances in material technology have improved the durability of all-ceramic crowns, they may still not last as long as PFM or metal crowns in some cases.
In conclusion, all-ceramic crowns offer exceptional aesthetic results with increased biocompatibility. However, their durability may not be ideal in some situations, so it’s important to discuss your needs and expectations with your dentist to determine the most suitable option for you.
Zirconia crowns are an excellent choice for those looking for a strong, durable, and aesthetically pleasing dental restoration. Made from zirconium oxide, a strong and biocompatible ceramic material, zirconia crowns are a popular choice for me and many other dental professionals. Here, I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of zirconia crowns.
Pros of Zirconia Crowns
- Strength and durability: Zirconia is a highly strong and durable material, which means the crowns made from it are resistant to chipping and cracking. This makes them ideal for patients with bruxism or those who have a history of damaging their teeth.
- Natural appearance: Zirconia crowns are known for their natural, tooth-like appearance, allowing them to blend seamlessly with your existing teeth.
- Reduced sensitivity: Compared to other types of crowns, patients with zirconia crowns typically experience less sensitivity to heat and cold.
- Biocompatibility: Zirconia is a biocompatible material, so there is a low risk of allergic reactions or irritation in patients.
Cons of Zirconia Crowns
- Cost: Zirconia crowns are generally more expensive than other types of crowns. However, the longevity and benefits they provide may outweigh the initial cost for many patients.
- Potential for wear on opposing teeth: Zirconia is a rigid and hard material, which can cause wear on the opposing teeth when biting and chewing. It is important to practice proper oral hygiene to minimize this risk.
Durability and Longevity
One of the main benefits of dental crowns is their durability and longevity. Depending on the material used, dental crowns can last anywhere from 5 to 20 years, or even longer in some cases. Metal crowns are known for their exceptional strength and resilience, followed by zirconia and porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. All-ceramic crowns may be more prone to chipping or cracking, but advances in dental materials have contributed to increased durability. Regular dental checkups and proper oral hygiene can significantly extend the lifespan of your crowns.
One of the most significant benefits of dental crowns is the improvement in the appearance of the teeth. Crowns can be customized to match the color, size, and shape of the patient’s natural teeth. This helps to create a seamless and natural-looking result.
Natural Color Matching
Dental crowns can be made with materials that closely resemble the color of a person’s natural teeth. This makes it possible to blend the crown seamlessly into the existing smile. In particular, all-ceramic and porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are known for their aesthetically pleasing appearance.
Enhanced Smile Appearance
Dental crowns can correct issues like uneven or misshapen teeth, discolored teeth, or gaps between the teeth. By addressing these imperfections, crowns help to enhance the overall appearance of your smile, leading to increased self-confidence and improved social interactions.
Protection of Damaged Teeth
Another essential benefit of dental crowns is their ability to protect and strengthen teeth that are damaged or weakened.
Preventing Further Damage
Dental crowns are designed to cover a tooth entirely, effectively shielding it from further damage. For example, if a tooth has been cracked or chipped, a crown can help to hold the tooth together and protect it from additional issues like infection or further breakage.
Strengthening Weak Teeth
In some cases, teeth can become weak and susceptible to breaking or fracturing, particularly after a root canal or the removal of a sizeable filling. A dental crown can provide additional strength and support to the tooth, ensuring it remains functional and healthy.
By protecting damaged teeth, dental crowns can help to prevent the need for more invasive procedures, such as tooth extraction. This, in turn, helps to maintain a person’s natural teeth for as long as possible, which is vital for overall oral health and well-being.
Restoring Tooth Functionality
One of the primary benefits of dental crowns is their ability to restore the functionality of damaged or decayed teeth. When teeth are weakened or compromised, it becomes challenging to perform everyday tasks such as chewing and speaking. Dental crowns provide a strong and durable solution to these issues by providing an additional layer of support.
When a tooth is damaged due to fracture or decay, it loses strength and becomes susceptible to further damage. Placing a dental crown reinforces the compromised tooth structure, allowing it to withstand biting pressure and normal wear and tear. In some cases, crowns can even save a tooth that would otherwise require extraction.
Dental crowns can also restore function in cases of missing teeth. By attaching a crown to two adjacent teeth and supporting an artificial tooth (pontic), a dental bridge can be created. This restores the ability to bite, chew and speak comfortably while preventing adjacent teeth from shifting and causing further dental problems. Learn more about dental bridges here.
A Beautiful, Natural-Looking Smile
In addition to restoring function, dental crowns can dramatically improve the appearance of your smile. With advancements in dental materials and technology, crowns are now designed to blend seamlessly with your natural teeth.
Modern dental crowns are customized to match the shape, size, and color of your surrounding teeth, ensuring a natural and aesthetically pleasing result. Through a range of materials, including porcelain and zirconia, dental crowns can be tailored to meet individual needs and preferences.
Discolored or Misshapen Teeth
Dental crowns are especially beneficial for those with stained, discolored, or misshapen teeth. By covering the affected tooth with a well-fitting and natural-looking crown, your smile can be rejuvenated, restoring both confidence and self-esteem.
Discolored or Misshapen Teeth
Dental crowns can effectively address imperfections such as discolored, misshapen, or chipped teeth. When teeth lose their natural color due to staining, a crown can be chosen to match the shade of your other teeth, providing an even and attractive color. In cases where a tooth is misshapen, a crown can be custom-made to fit the tooth’s desired shape, improving its appearance.
Gaps and Alignment
Another issue that dental crowns can effortlessly resolve is gaps between teeth. Whether the gaps are caused by tooth decay, damage, or general misalignment, dental crowns can be used to close the spaces and provide a continuous and aesthetically pleasing alignment. Crowns can also help in slightly correcting misaligned teeth without the need for orthodontic treatment, which might be a preferred option for some patients.
Reinforcing Weak or Broken Teeth
Strengthening Weak Teeth
Dental crowns play a vital role in reinforcing weak teeth that have been affected by decay or fractures. When the tooth’s structure is at risk, a crown can provide the needed support and prevent further damage. By enveloping the tooth in a strong, durable material, crowns can effectively restore the damaged tooth’s functionality, ensuring that it can withstand the normal forces of biting and chewing.
Supporting Dental Treatments and Replacements
In some cases, a dental crown might also be used in conjunction with other dental treatments, such as root canals or dental implants. When a tooth undergoes a root canal treatment, the dental pulp is removed, which can make the tooth more fragile and prone to cracks. To prevent this, a dental crown is often placed on top of the treated tooth for additional support. Similarly, dental crowns are used with dental implants, acting as a replacement tooth that is attached to an implant post, providing a strong and functional solution for missing teeth.
Examination and Preparation
Before the dental crown procedure, I perform a thorough examination of the affected tooth to ensure it can support a crown. This examination includes assessing the tooth’s structure, checking for decay or infection, and taking X-rays to visualize the tooth and surrounding bone.
If the tooth is suitable for a crown, I will first prepare it by removing any decay or infection and shaping it to accommodate the crown. This involves trimming a small amount of enamel from the tooth’s surface to create space for the crown. In some cases, such as when the tooth is severely damaged or has a large filling, I may need to build up the tooth’s structure with a dental filling material before shaping it.
Impression and Temporary Crown
Once the tooth is prepared, I take an impression of the tooth and surrounding teeth to ensure the crown will fit correctly and maintain a proper bite. This impression is sent to a dental lab, where the crown is fabricated. While the permanent crown is being made, I will place a temporary crown on the tooth to protect it and maintain its function. This temporary crown is usually made of acrylic or metal and will be removed when the permanent crown is ready.
Dental crowns are custom-made to fit each patient’s unique tooth shape, size, and color. The crown is typically fabricated at a dental laboratory, where skilled technicians use the impression and specific instructions provided by me to create a crown that matches your natural teeth in appearance and function.
There are various materials used to fabricate dental crowns, as discussed in the Types of Dental Crowns section above. The choice of material depends on factors such as the tooth’s location, the patient’s bite, and aesthetic preferences. Once the crown is fabricated, the dental lab sends it back to my office for placement.
Temporary Crown Placement
Following the successful fabrication of your dental crown, I will first place a temporary crown to protect the prepared tooth until the permanent crown is ready for placement. This helps in preventing tooth sensitivity and maintaining the correct bite position. The temporary crown is made of acrylic or stainless steel and is attached to the tooth with temporary dental cement.
Permanent Crown Placement
Once the permanent crown is ready, I will remove the temporary crown and thoroughly clean the tooth. Before cementing the permanent crown, I will check for proper fit, alignment with adjacent teeth, and bite. If any adjustments are needed, I will make them to ensure the best fit and comfort. Then, I will cement the crown in place using a strong dental cement. After the cement has set, your dental crown is securely in place, and you can resume your normal activities.
Caring for Your Dental Crowns
Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
To extend the lifespan of your dental crowns and maintain the health of your surrounding teeth and gums, it is essential to practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Floss daily to remove plaque and debris from between your teeth and around your dental crowns. Use an antibacterial mouthwash to help reduce plaque buildup and maintain healthier gums. Your dental crowns may last many years if you care for them properly, and maintaining good oral hygiene is an important step in ensuring their longevity.
Regular Dental Checkups and Cleanings
In order to ensure the longevity and effectiveness of your dental crowns, it is important to schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings. I recommend visiting your dentist at least twice a year. During these appointments, your dentist will examine your dental crowns for any signs of wear, damage, or potential issues. They’ll also provide professional cleanings that help remove plaque and maintain gum health, ultimately protecting the integrity of your crowns and surrounding teeth.
Dental crowns are an effective solution for various dental concerns and issues. Understanding the types, pros and cons, and benefits of dental crowns helps in determining if a dental crown is the best option for you. It is essential to schedule regular dental checkups and perform proper maintenance to ensure the longevity and effectiveness of your dental crowns.
At Dental Spa of Texas, our team is dedicated to providing the best dental care for our patients in Frisco, Carrollton, Plano, Little Elm, Allen, Addison, Hebron, Lewisville, Farmers Branch, Prosper, The Colony, Dallas, and Garland. We offer a wide range of services, including dental crowns, to help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile.
So, what are you waiting for? Reach out to us today and let us help you find the best solution for your dental needs. Don’t let damaged teeth hold you back any longer – take the first step toward a healthier, more confident smile by contacting us at Dental Spa of Texas.
About Dr. Linh Nguyen and Dental Spa of Texas
Dr. Linh Nguyen is a highly trained dentist who earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington School of Dentistry. His practice, Dental Spa of Texas, offers various services, including dental implants, fillings, teeth extraction, root canals, crowns, cleanings, and more. Dr. Nguyen is committed to providing exceptional dental care to patients in Frisco, Carrollton, Plano, Little Elm, Allen, Addison, Hebron, Lewisville, Farmers Branch, Prosper, The Colony, Dallas, Garland, and DFW areas.
How long do dental crowns last?
Dental crowns typically last between 5 to 15 years, depending on the materials used and how well they are maintained.
Are dental crowns covered by insurance?
Coverage may vary depending on your dental insurance plan. It’s best to discuss this with your insurance provider and dentist to understand what is covered.
Can a dental crown become loose or fall off?
Though unlikely, dental crowns can become loose or fall off due to various reasons such as wear, decay, or trauma. If this occurs, contact your dentist immediately to remedy the situation.
How should I clean my dental crowns?
Maintain proper oral hygiene by brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, and attending regular dental cleanings.
What if I experience sensitivity after getting a dental crown?
Sensitivity is common after getting a dental crown, but it should subside within a few weeks. If it persists, contact your dentist for further evaluation and potential treatment.