Dental crowns as a treatment have been around for many years, but it’s surprising how little many people actually know about this common restorative dental procedure. You may know that dental crowns are a protective cap that encases a tooth, improving its appearance, size, shape or strength. This is often the extent of people’s knowledge about dental crowns, but there’s so much more to know. Here’s what your dentist wishes you knew about them.
Dental crowns are not a magic solution to the problems of decay and disease
As an artificial restoration, a crown is obviously not prone to decay or disease – but the tooth that it covers still is. You can’t go easy on your oral hygiene just because you have a dental crown covering a tooth or teeth. If you rarely brush your teeth and hate flossing, a dental crown will not be a good option for you. The presence of a dental crown will not prevent decay, disease and other problems from occurring in the future. Once you have a crown, you’ll need to maintain excellent oral hygiene, including:
- Brushing your teeth, gums and tongue at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to prevent decay
- Flossing daily to keep your gums disease-free
- Using mouthwash regularly to keep your mouth healthy
- Scheduling regular check-ups with your dentist to ensure any developing problems are nipped in the bud
- Having your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year
Not everyone is a suitable candidate for a dental crown
Dental crowns are a wonderful option for people with:
- Fractured, broken or chipped teeth
- Misshapen teeth
- Discoloured teeth
- Seriously decayed teeth
- Weak teeth
- Filings that are weakening the teeth walls.
While this covers a lot of people, there are a number of factors you need to have in place before you’re considered a suitable candidate for a dental crown. The fact is that dental crowns are not for everyone, and you can’t just independently decide you’d like one. The decision on whether a crown is a good solution for you will be made by your dentist (in consultation with you).
A dental crown is not a good option for people:
- With not enough of the damaged tooth left intact to support a crown
- In poor health, as you need to be in general good health to undergo the crown preparation and procedure
- With unhealthy tooth structures, gum and jawbone tissues
- With an unwillingness to maintain good oral hygiene habits for the rest of your life
The procedure is not as painful or complex as you might think
Major dental procedures such as these seem like they might be painful, time-consuming and complicated. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Once all the preparation has been carried out, the crown procedure is actually relatively simple and quick. It should only involve between two and three visits to the dentist (although this may increase if you have disease, decay or other problems to be dealt with first).
The preparation and placement of the crown is usually done under local anaesthetic, so you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. However, you may feel some discomfort, swelling, tenderness or sensitivity for a few days following the procedure. This is normal, fairly minimal, and usually won’t last long; plus it can be easily managed using over-the-counter pain medication.
You’ll need to have a temporary crown first
You won’t receive your permanent crown first up. After your dental consultation, you’ll be fitted with a temporary crown made from resin or acrylic material, which will cover and protect your damaged tooth. This will also help the dentist determine the best fit for your crown, while your permanent restoration is being created.
Once your permanent crown is ready, your dentist will remove the temporary crown and securely fit the permanent one using dental adhesive to cement it to your tooth.
Dental crowns aren’t permanent
While we talk about fitting a permanent crown, you should know that while dental crowns are quite long-lasting with proper care, they won’t last forever (and without proper care, their lifespan will be even shorter). It’s a given that your crown will need to be replaced sometime in the future.
However, the process of having a dental crown is permanent, even if the actual crown itself is not. Once you have a crown, you’ll need to keep on replacing your crowns for life. This is due to the fact that your crowned tooth will always need protection, as it will have been prepared and reduced in size to fit the crown. It can no longer be left uncovered.