What Is A Dental Crown?
A dental crown is a cap placed over a damaged tooth as a replacement meant to restore the shape, strength, and size of the underlying tooth. The crown cemented on to the tooth so that it covers the portion of the tooth that is visible above the gums. A variety of oral hygiene problems like tooth decay or injuries can give rise to the need for a dental crown replacement. a dental crown is needed in order to protect a tooth until it repairs fully. A dentist recommends getting a dental crown when the need arises to protect a weak tooth so that it does not break, to restore a damaged tooth, to cover a tooth that has a large filling, to protect a tooth that underwent a root canal, or simply to hide the appearance of severely discoloured teeth.
Types of Dental Crowns
The types of crowns vary in terms of their use and material. A dental crown can be a temporary addition to the tooth, i.e. “temporary crown”. A temporary crown is fixed using an easily-removable adhesive and is used until a permanent crown can be made. It can be meant for one-day use only, i.e. “one-day crown”, or be a permanent addition for any damaged teeth. An Onlay or ¾ crown is much the same as the traditional crown, the only difference being that it covers ¾ of the underlying tooth instead of covering it completely.
The permanent dental crowns can be made from a range of different materials, the most common of which include the following:
- Stainless steel
Stainless steel crowns are crowns prefabricated for the purpose of being used on permanent teeth temporarily. This serves as a protection for a tooth that has been filled until a permanent crown is prepared. In children, a stainless steel dental crown is designed to cover a prepared primary tooth until the primary tooth comes out and is replaced by the permanent tooth. Stainless steel crowns are relatively cost-effective compared to other prophylactic dental crowns or custom-made crowns, making them more common in children.
- Metal crowns
Various metal alloys including those which have a high content of platinum or gold, and base-metal alloys like cobalt- and nickel-chromium alloys are used in dental crowns. These crowns are very resistant to wear and tear and can withstand the forces of chewing and biting. These crowns also do not chip or break easily. Metal crowns are the most long-lasting because of this reason. The only drawback of these crowns is the metallic colour that makes them inappropriate for use in prominent molars or incisors, and their high costs.
Unlike metal crowns, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are aesthetically pleasing because they can be matched to the colour of your teeth. These crowns can be made to look just like the rest of the teeth in the mouth. Unfortunately, however, these crowns are known to cause more damage to neighbouring teeth than resin or metal crowns do. While porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns resemble the other teeth, the underlying metal may show as a thin and dark line over the gum line. This can be particularly prominent if you have receding gums. These crowns are best for use over the front teeth because of aesthetics, and over the back teeth because of the strength that the metal offers.
All-resin dental crowns are the most cost-effective choice of dental crowns that you can choose. A significant drawback of these crowns is that they can wear down with time and are more likely to get fractured than others.
- All-porcelain or all-ceramic
These crowns are suitable options for people with metal allergies who cannot get metal crowns. The pure porcelain and ceramic ensure that the crown matches with the other teeth in the mouth, and this feature makes them ideal choices for both front and back teeth.
Costs of Dental Crowns
The costs of dental crowns vary depending on the material used and on the size of the crown. The price typically ranges from $800 to $1,500, however, a gold crown can cost up to $2,500. Gold and porcelain crowns cost more than all-metal (metal alloy) crowns. In addition to the material and size of the crown, the price may also depend on the amount of preparation that needs to be done before the crown can be used. Extensive preparation procedures like having to perform a dental implant or root canal, before the crown can be placed, is bound to increase the costs. Alternately, the cost of installing a crown may be covered entirely by dental insurance. This, however, would include only a limited range of certain crowns.
Caring for Dental Crowns
The durability of dental crowns is perhaps the most important benefit. If maintained properly, a dental crown can last for several years. The longevity of a dental crown depends almost entirely on how well you care for it. Oral hygiene involving permanent or temporary dental crowns is complicated and it is necessary to know what measures can ensure that no complications arise. The following measures can enhance the life-span of dental crowns:
- Avoiding hard and sticky foods
Chewing on candies, ice, or other hard food substances can result in the dental crown breaking or being chipped off. Similarly, sticky food substances can loosen or weaken the dental crown, reducing the time they can go before they need to be replaced. Sticky food can also get trapped between the gum and the crown, and, if not dealt with in time, can result in plaque formation and cavities.
- Floss and brush regularly
Routine oral care is essential to the health of the underlying natural tooth. To maintain the appearance of the crown and the health of the tooth, frequent brushing is the key. Germs and food substances caught between the gum and the crown can develop into plague and lead to complications.
- Use a night-guard if you are in habit of grinding or clenching
Persistent clenching or grinding of the teeth, especially during the night when it is uncontrollable, can take a serious negative toll on your dental crown. Use a nightguard to avoid causing irreparable damage to the dental crown if you are in such a habit.
In conclusion, dental crowns are caps that protect the underlying teeth and are available in a range of types. They require special care and attention to ensure that they live long before needing replacement. If not, crowns can get very costly dental care procedures.
--- By Arif Khan I He is a professional dentist in KPK, Pakistan. His expertise involves cosmetic dentistry, maxillofacial surgery & prosthodontics.