When the time comes for our patients to get crowns on their teeth, we always get asked the very same question:
What is a dental crown
and how to take care of it?
Well, a crown is exactly what it sounds like: a “cap” of sorts that goes on top of a tooth to help restore the size, shape, and appearance. Typically it is needed after some sort of breakage or severe cavity. Then, we sometimes get the next question:
“So it is like a bridge then?”
Part of the answer to the question on what is a dental crown is best explained by Colgate.
Colgate explains in greater detail the difference between crowns and bridges:
Both are fixed prosthetic devices. Unlike removable devices such as dentures, which you can take out and clean daily, crowns and bridges are cemented onto existing teeth or implants, and can only be removed by a dentist.
If you are still confused, take a look at this video developed by Mouth Healthy and the American Dental Association:
Why might you need crowns?
You might need them in the following cases:
- To protect a weak tooth (from decay or damage) from breakage or further injury
- To hold the parts of a cracked tooth together
- To restore an already broken tooth or make it safer for your mouth (no sharp edges)
- To cover a tooth that has been severely worn down and causing pain
- To help cover and support a large filling within a tooth that is too small to take it
- To hold a dental bridge in place for a short time or for a long time
- To cover misshapen teeth
- To correct severely discolored teeth
- To cover a dental implant
- To make a cosmetic or orthodontic modification
Do note that there may be other ways to fix or solve this problem that is better for you. When you come into Cambridge, we will sit and talk with you one on one about whether crowns, implants, bridges, or other options might be best for you.
Crowns are often used for cosmetic reasons because, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, they “are an excellent choice when recreating the form and function of a damaged tooth, because a crown basically replaces the entire external portion of the tooth down to the gum level. Crowns are not limited to simply replacing the original tooth, but can be designed to create an even better aesthetic appearance.”
Dental Crowns for Children
Due to a severe surge in dental health problems for children, we are now using more and more dental crowns in children. Usually this is because the child is at high risk for decay or already has quite a pit of decay in permanent teeth. This happens when a child doesn’t keep up with daily oral hygiene.
It is also easier than using general anesthesia for children, especially those who are unable because of age, behavior, or medical history. It will make situations where the child may need a root canal easier.
Are there any problems with crowns?
As with any dental procedure, there can be problems with receiving a crown, which is why we typically go with dental implants if that is a possibility, as there are fewer problems. Here are some of the more common issues people with dental crowns will face:
- The crowns can be sensitive or uncomfortable. Your newly crowned tooth will probably be sensitive as the anesthesia begins to wear off and you gain feeling again. This sensitivity may not come until you try to put something hot or cold near the tooth, like tea or ice cream. If that is that way, we often recommend that you brush teeth with toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Pain or sensitivity that occurs when you bite down usually means that the crown is too high on the tooth. If this is the case, you can call us and we will immediately try to fix the problem.
- Crowns can chip. Crowns made of all porcelain can sometimes chip, especially if you eat something that is extremely hard or if you fall. If the chip is small enough and in a particular place, a composite resin can be used to repair the chip without taking your crown out of your mouth. If the chipping is extensive, it may be safer and more economical to just replace the whole crown.
- Crowns can become loose. Sometimes daily life and usage will make the cement loose, which will make it wash out from under the crown. If that happens, bacteria can leak in and cause decay.
How long do crowns last?
We have found that on average, dental crowns will last anywhere between five and 15 years, depending on multiple things. The first is where the crown is: a crown that was exposed to more chewing or usage will not last as long. It also depends on how well you follow the good hygiene practices your dentist will suggest. Finally, it will depend on whether or not you participate in high-risk activities like grinding or clenching your teeth, chewing ice, biting fingernails, and using your teeth to open packaging.
How much do crowns cost?
How much crowns cost varies from person to person, dentist to dentist, and mouth to mouth. On average, crowns can range in cost from about $600 to more than $1500 per crown. A portion of the cost of crowns is generally covered by insurance, but to be certain, you should check with your dental insurance company.
If you are interested in hearing more about dental crowns, bridges, or implants, you can contact our office.
We will be able to tell you what the best options are for you, talk to you about the positives and negatives of each procedure, and walk you through what to expect.
Give us a call at (316) 687-2110 or toll free at (877) 687-2110.