What are dental crowns?

Dental crowns are restorations that can significantly improve a patient’s oral health. They are designed to restore the size, shape and aesthetics of the tooth. Crowns are permanent restorations cemented to fully surround the entire tooth structure and rest right at the gingiva.

Why does a dentist recommend dental crowns?

There are various reasons why your dentist may propose a crown as the best means of treatment. A crown may be necessary:

  • To prevent an unstable tooth (due to decay or natural wear and tear) from fracturing, or to hold already fractured teeth together
  • To hold a tooth that has large existing restorations with not enough structure to support itself
  • To anchor a dental bridge in place
  • To cosmetically correct teeth with irreversible staining
  • To be used for dental implants
matching shade for dental crown

What types of dental crowns are available?

Crowns are fabricated with different materials and each have unique pros and cons. Some of the materials used for dental crowns are:

Metal crowns are used to give the tooth strength and include alloys made from gold, platinum, and base-metals like cobalt-chromium and nickel-chromium. Metal crowns hardly ever break, crack or wear down, but are not as aesthetically pleasing as other materials.

All-ceramic or all-porcelain crowns give patients better natural color match than any other crown type and may be better for people with metal allergies. All-ceramic crowns can be used for front and back teeth and tend to be the most popular because they blend in with your smile.

Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns can be shade matched to your neighboring teeth. These are the second most common crown type after all ceramic crowns because they look most natural. However, more wearing to the opposing teeth develop with this type of crown, and the crown’s porcelain can also chip over time. It is also common the metal can show through, especially at the gum line. These crowns can be a nice option for front or back teeth as well as bridges that require the strength of the metal.

Temporary crowns can be made the same day, while most permanent crowns are typically made in a dental laboratory. Generally, temporary crowns are made of an acrylic-based material or prefabricated stainless steel and can be used until a permanent crown is constructed by a lab.

cartoon tooth

Did you know?

In 1903, Dr. Charles Land introduced the all-porcelain jacket crown – an invention he patented in 1889 that is the first modern rendition of the dental crown we know today.

How long do dental crowns last?

Most crowns will last between 5 and 15 years, but the lifespan is greatly dependent on the patient. A crown’s integrity may decrease with poor oral hygiene, personal habits such as smoking and grinding, and natural wear and tear.

Is a dental crown procedure painful?

Dental crowns may seem to be an invasive way to treat a tooth, and it is typical for patients to be concerned about pain when this type of treatment is proposed. Undergoing a dental crown procedure is not painful and is fairly simple.

How much do crowns cost?

Typically, crowns can range in price from $800 to $1,800 or more per tooth. A portion of the price of crowns is usually covered by insurance. To ensure the percentage your insurance company covers, it is best to check with them directly.

Do crowns get stained?

As dental crowns age, it isn’t unlikely they will stain just as our natural teeth do. Personal habits such as smoking, drinking coffee or tea, and eating foods that are dark in color can be contributing factors to the discoloration of ceramic and porcelain crowns.

Can crowns be whitened after being placed?

Teeth whitening procedures and toothpastes, whether professional or over the counter can be effective in lifting stains from the enamel of natural teeth. Unfortunately, these products will not lighten a crown, however, using tooth whitening mechanisms will not damage or harm crowns either.

Are crowns better than fillings?

Fillings and crowns can both be great solutions to treating teeth. Crowns are often times recommended over fillings if the majority of the tooth structure is missing, or the majority of the tooth needs to be replaced. Fillings do not provide the same kind of protection and choosing a filling instead will put the tooth at risk for breaking even more until it is unrestorable.