With our modern dental technology, dental crowns are both easy to place and maintain. However, just like any other common medical procedure, there are myths and misconceptions that surround this procedure, reason why the following read seeks to answer all questions pertaining to dental crowns.
What is a dental crown?
Just as the name suggest, a dental crown is basically a shell-like structure that takes the shape of a tooth. This cap acts as an artificial dental restoration covering all major parts of the tooth above the gum line. The dental crown is permanently cemented in to place and the resulting tooth is taken care of just like a natural tooth. For anyone missing a tooth or part of it because of congenital disorders, tooth decay, tooth wear or traumatic injuries, dental crowns provide the best treatment option.
When is a dental crown needed?
When a dentist places a dental crown on a tooth, he/she has the intention of providing you with a treatment option that extends the life of your tooth for years to come. Still, there are a variety of situations that require a tooth to be restored with a dental crown, these are;
i) When you need a root canal- This is a dental treatment that leaves your tooth hollowed out and predisposed to cracking. A dental crown therefore restores the tooth and prevents it from fracturing.
ii) When you have a tooth cavity- In the case that you have a wide tooth cavity or a fracture that involves half the tooth’s width or more, placement of a dental crown is advised since the remaining tooth surrounding the cavity is too weak and might fracture.
iii) Broken cusps- Due to trauma or large existing fillings, cusps frequently break off. Plus, given that the cusps take the most pressure during chewing and grinding, a dental crown is always the best treatment option in prevention of fracturing of a tooth or filling.
iv) When a tooth is in danger of breaking- Whenever a tooth’s structure is at risk, decay is often the culprit. In cases where a tooth has become decayed to the point that a filling couldn’t possibly restore the tooth’s strength, a crown is placed to strengthen the tooth and help it maintain its function.
v) When you are getting dental implants- Just like crowns are replacement for missing teeth, dental implants are replacement for missing tooth roots. Once a dental implant is fused in to the jaw bone, a dental crown is then placed over the implant so as to allow you to chew normally.
vi) Excessive wear of teeth- For people who have a habit of grinding their teeth, the enamel wears off with time. The same happens from consuming an acidic diet or gastrointestinal acid reflux. Over time, the little that is left of the teeth may collapse and hence dental crowns are needed to increase the bite and restore the teeth’s strength.
vii) Cracked tooth syndrome- This is a condition whereby a patient has fractures within a tooth and experiences pain when chewing. In this case, a dental crown will hold the tooth together and redistribute the pressure evenly throughout eliminating the pain.
viii) To improve the appearance of your teeth- For teeth that have undesirable appearance owing to their color, shape or the existence of spaces in between, dental crowns have the ability to make them look natural and attractive. What’s even better is that materials such as porcelain and composite resin are now used to make the dental crowns appear even more natural.
What is the procedure for getting a dental crown?
Involving a comprehensive understanding of biomechanics, biology and aesthetics, the fabrication of dental crown is indeed an advanced and effective restorative process. The complexity of the procedure will depend on the patient’s requirement. For instance, when a patient requires a number of restorations or in cases where the dental crowns need to be fabricated for the front teeth (the crowns would need to be harmonious with the adjacent teeth).
A typical dental crown procedure would go like this;
Step 1. Initial presentation and evaluation of the various treatment options to the patient
Your mouth, teeth and general health will be evaluated and thereafter, appropriate treatment options provided
Step 2. Diagnosis and fabrication of prototype crowns
This is where analogue or digital models of the patient’s jaws are created followed by the creation of new teeth with improved shape in wax or on the computer
Step 3. Preparation, impression procedure and placement of crown
This is the part where your tooth is prepared to be of a very specific shape so as to accept the crown. In order to create the perfect model, your dentists will make an impression of your tooth and jaw with the help of a digital scanner or dental silicone.
Step 4. Fabrication and delivery of permanent crowns
On completion, the dental crown is evaluated and permanently secured to your tooth with an adhesive.
What types of Dental Crowns are available?
1. Metal crowns- These provide the best strength and are made from gold or other types of dental alloys. Owing to their strength even when the thickness of the material is minimal and their metallic appearance, metal crowns are mostly used in the back of the mouth.
2. Ceramic crowns- These provide a better natural color match and are most suited for the front teeth. Ceramic crowns also provide sufficient strength without compromising on appearance
3. Plastic (polymer) – These are mostly used for provisional restorations (Made for short to medium duration of time)
4. Ceramo-metal- This is a type of dental crown that combines the strength of metal and the aesthetic features of ceramic to create a tooth that is both strong and appealing.
How much do dental crowns cost?
The costs of a dental crown procedure will depend on the materials used, condition of the tooth, the dentist’s training/experience and the local rates. In the case that the dental crown is needed for medical reasons, dental insurance may cover 50%. In most cases, dental insurance plans will have an annual maximum limit of $1,000-$1,500.
How long do dental crowns last?
Contrary to popular belief, dental crowns do not last forever. However, current research shows that more than 90% of well maintained dental crowns will not require any major treatments for half a decade. And that 50-80% of dental crowns will last between 15-20 years. All in all, it is vital to remember that just like a real tooth; the durability of your dental crown will heavily depend on how you take care of it.