Dental Crowns: Everything You Need To Know Procedure, Cost, and Options.

Intro

Teeth can become damaged for many reasons, which cause them to lose their shape and size. This can lead to sensitivity and a whole host of other oral problems. One way dentists have been tackling these issues is through a dental restoration procedure using dental crowns. 

Dental crowns are a restorative treatment where caps are fitted onto damaged teeth. They are used on teeth with severe problems where fillings cannot work. Dental crowns protect, cover, and restore the shape of teeth. They can be made from metal, porcelain, resin, and ceramic. 

If you have severely damaged teeth and are dealing with sensitivity or other issues, you should visit a dentist as soon as possible to have the issue fixed before it’s too late. A licensed dentist will be able to tell if you need dental crowns or not and set up a treatment plan.

What Is Dental Crown?

A dental crown is a restorative procedure that dentists use to reshape, resize, and strengthen a weak tooth that has suffered from tooth decay, injuries, and other reasons. Crowns are little cap-like tooth-shaped units that go over your tooth. They act as the tooth’s outer layer, protecting it from further damage, preventing serious procedures like extractions, etc.

Dental crowns are made from a wide variety of materials, with the most popular being porcelain since the colour is very similar to the natural colour of teeth. It is always one of the most durable materials to survive daily biting and chewing.

Dental crowns are a permanent fixture, but some can last a lifetime if taken care of properly, while others may crack and break, which means they’ll have to be replaced. Dental crowns are cemented onto a tooth and fully encase the visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line.

In some cases, partial crowns may be used when a tooth or series of teeth do not require a full dental crown but are beyond fixing with filling. These crowns are usually called inlays and are used to prevent tooth decay while keeping tooth structure intact.

Other instances may see you fitted with a temporary crown or provisional crown, which is just a crown placed on the tooth while the permanent one is being made. For example, you may be fitted with a temporary crown while waiting for a root canal treatment to help ease some pain and discomfort while eating. The provisional crown is held in place by an easily removable adhesive for easy removal when the time comes to fit the permanent one.

Dental Crown Procedure

The dental crown procedure usually requires at least two trips to the dentist. However, with newer technology, some dentists can fit you with a crown in one visit. The first visit sees the dentist examining and preparing the tooth to be crowned, while the second involves the placement of the permanent crown on the tooth.

First Visit

At the first visit, the dentist will most likely take an X-ray of the tooth and jaw bone to check the tooth’s roots. Next, they will look for signs of decay and other signs that can increase infection or injury to the tooth’s pulp. If they find such issues, they may recommend root canal therapy before placing the crown on the tooth.

Next, the dental professional will then make room for the crown by reshaping the tooth by filing down the top and the sides. Finally, they will numb the tooth and surrounding gum tissue before the reshaping process. The amount of reshaping done will all depend on the type of crown that will be used. For example, the thickness of porcelain crowns will require more reshaping than when using thinner metal crowns.

After the tooth’s been reshaped, the next step in the process is to make an impression of the prepared tooth to ensure the crown fits as close as possible. Your dentist may use a paste or putty to get the impression. In some instances, impressions are made with a digital scanner as well. Impressions are also taken of teeth above and below the tooth, receiving a dental crown to ensure that the crown will not lead to issues with your bite.

The impressions and scans are then sent to a lab to be manufactured while the dentist places a temporary crown on the damaged tooth while you wait. Temporary crowns are usually made from acrylic and help in place by a temporary cement.

It can be up to 3 weeks before you get called for your second visit to have your permanent crown fixed. Be sure to take special care of your temporary crown during this time. Avoid sticky, chewy foods that can grab and pull off the crown or hard foods to break the temporary crown. Chew on the opposite side of your mouth as much as possible and slide the floss when cleaning between teeth rather than lifting it out.

Second Visit

At the second visit, the dentist will remove the temporary crown and check to see that the crown fits well and that the colour matches with the surrounding teeth.

If all is well, then the next step is to cement the crown onto your tooth permanently. If there are issues with the fit, colour, or bite, the crown will have to make adjustments to ensure it fits right and causes no problems. Once everything is good and there are no issues, they numb the tooth and surrounding gums tissues before cementing the permanent crown onto the tooth.

Same-day procedure

Some dental practices may be able to fit your crown in just one visit. First, the dentist takes digital pictures of your mouth and creates a crown right in the office using the digital scan from the photos. This can take maybe 1 to 2 hours, and if everything is perfect, the dentist then cements it into place.

How Much is Dental Crown in Australia?

The cost of dental crowns varies and will depend on various factors like which tooth needs the crown and the material used to make the crown. Ceramic crowns can cost up to $2040, while porcelain crowns can go up to $2002. The only sure way to determine the cost of crowns is to visit your dentist, and only after they have examined your tooth will they be able to let you know.

Problems That Dental Crowns Can Fix

There are a few issues that dental crowns can fix. These include:

Tooth Decay

A tooth can start to decay for several reasons, including the acids created by oral bacteria. The acid eats away at the tooth’s enamel and can severely damage the tooth. The deterioration starts as small holes, which you know as cavities.

If left untreated, the hole gets bigger until the tooth’s soft tissue and inner pulp chamber become compromised. This can lead to the tooth breaking apart, losing its function, and causing you a world of pain. Dental crowns are a common treatment that dentists use to protect a tooth suffering from further decay.

Chipped, Cracked, or Broken Teeth

Dental crowns are one sure way to fix chipped, cracked, or broken teeth. In some cases, a root canal may be performed depending on the severity of the damage to the tooth before installing a dental crown to it. 

Stained Teeth 

Some stains cannot be removed with teeth whitening treatments. In these instances, a dental crown is the perfect dental treatment to tackle a discoloured tooth for a brighter smile.

Gaps between teeth

Dental crowns can be used to bridge abnormal gaps between teeth. Dentists achieve this by either creating oversized crowns for the closest to the gap on both sides so that they meet to eliminate the space. On the other hand, they may create a dental bridge by making extra tooth and crowns for the teeth closest to the gap on both sides.

Different Types Of Dental Crown and What’s Best For Me?

Dental Crowns Everything You Need To Know Procedure, Cost, and Options.

There are various types of crowns available, and your dentist will determine the best crown type for you after he examines the tooth. Crown materials differ from each other and serve specific purposes. 

Metal

A metal crown can include alloys with a high percentage of gold, platinum, or base metal alloys like cobalt and nickel. Metal alloy crowns are probably the strongest crowns since they can withstand the constant biting and chewing you would be doing every day. In addition, they will not chip and break easily, thus ensuring longevity. However, do note that the metallic colour and high price of gold crowns may not be ideal. Metal crowns are more suited for out-of-sight molars, so if you’re not fixing your molar, look at the other types of dental crowns.

Porcelain

A porcelain crown can either be porcelain-fused-to-metal or all-porcelain. Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns differ from metallic-coloured metal crowns and can be matched to the colour of your natural teeth. However, the metal under the porcelain can sometimes be visible, especially at the gumline. Therefore, these crowns work best for front or back teeth or instances where the metal is needed for strength.

All-porcelain dental crowns will better match the colour of natural enamel and are recommended for those with metal allergies. Do keep in mind that porcelain material can chip and break easily, so you’ll have to take special care if you do decide to get a porcelain crown.

Resin

Resin crowns are made from a composite resin that is similar to the one used for fillings. If you want your crown to have a natural appearance, this crown is the ideal option for a beautiful smile. However, they wear down over time and are more prone to breakage than the other types of dental crowns.

Ceramic

A ceramic crown can either be a full-ceramic or a pressed ceramic crown. A Full-ceramic crown is another great option for those with metal allergies. They are a suitable choice for teeth at the front of the mouth and aren’t as strong as other crowns. Pressed ceramic crowns have a hard inner core and are capped with porcelain. These are stronger and last longer than all-porcelain crowns.

Complications You May Experience After The Dental Crown Procedure

Teeth Sensitivity

You may experience some discomfort or sensitivity with a new dental crown. Teeth sensitivity may occur immediately after the procedure when the anesthesia starts to wear off. In addition, crowned teeth with nerves in them may be sensitive to both hot and cold. Your dentist will recommend you brush your teeth with a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth in these cases. However, if you experience pain or sensitivity when you bite down, it usually means the crown is too high. In that instance, ring your dentist and let them know so they can schedule you for a visit to fix the problem.

Chipped Crowns

Porcelain crowns are more prone to chipping, so if you have an all-porcelain crown or porcelain-fused-to-metal crown, you need to be careful. However, sometimes no matter how careful you are, the crown may chip. If the chip is small, your dentist may perform a temporary fix by using a composite resin. If the chip is large, then the crown will need to be replaced. 

Allergic Reaction

Metal crowns can sometimes cause an allergic reaction in some patients. This is because metals crowns are made from a mixture of metals, and some people may be allergic to some of these metals. If you think you are allergic to metal, mention this to your dentist at your first visit so that he can work out a solution. 

How To Choose The Right Dentist For Dental Crowns

Get recommendations from family and friends

The best place to start looking for a good dentist is by asking friends and family for recommendations. Ask about their experience and if they were satisfied with the work done. Ultimately, you want a prosthodontist who is a specialist at restoring and replacing lost or damaged teeth. A prosthodontist specializes in dental procedures such as porcelain veneers, crowns, dental implants, bridge repair, dentures, and reconstructive dentistry.

Look them up online

After getting recommendations, you should go online to read some reviews posted on the dental clinic website. 

Pay the office a visit

You can drop in to check out the aesthetic of the dental clinic you plan to use. Does it look inviting, and is it clean? You should also make an appointment to talk to the dentist about common dental crown placement basics, their specialties, credentials, hours, and fees.

How Long Do Dental Crowns Last?

Dental crowns can last anywhere from 5 years to 15 years and will depend on several factors. These include the material that the crown is made out of and the amount of wear and tear it’s exposed to. Your oral hygiene practices and habits such as grinding or excessive clenching of the teeth also play a major role in determining the lifespan of your dental crown. 

Alternatives To Dental Crowns?

Dentists may recommend a dental crown to restore a damaged tooth. Unfortunately, crowns can be expensive, and dentists have to remove much of the tooth’s material. However, a few alternative treatment options cost less and do not require as much reshaping and resizing of the tooth.

Onlays, Inlays and ¾ Crown

Onlays, Inlays and ¾ crowns may be used to partially cover a damaged tooth instead of a traditional crown that covers the entire tooth. A ¾ crown covers the top of the tooth and three sides of that tooth that is not visible. Onlays cover the top of the tooth and one or more of the tooth’s cusps. If the onlay covers the entire tooth, this type of treatment is called a complete onlay, and if it doesn’t, that is a partial onlay. Inlays only cover the top of the tooth and none of the tooth’s cusps. 

Veneer Placement

In some instances, your dentist may opt to place a veneer instead of a dental crown. Veneers are only for use on the front of the tooth and are mostly used for cosmetic purposes. Less tooth material needs to be removed if you’re getting a minimal prepped veneer instead of a traditional porcelain veneer.

Your dentist will decide which type of veneer is right for your tooth. However, keep in mind that veneers are more of a cosmetic fix and may not help fix severely broken or damaged teeth.

Fillings

Fillings will not work on teeth with extensive damage and should not be used for large cavities. They are best suited for cases with minimal tooth destruction. However, they are an option if you are looking for a temporary fix. Fillings are more prone to breaking since they do not offer the same level of protection as dental crowns.

Dentists may use a filling, often called a dental core, to build up a tooth before placing a crown. However, do keep in mind that this is not for long-term use. FIllings cost way less than crowns and can be done in one day, but the advantages quickly go out the window if the filling breaks, cracks the tooth, or falls out.

Tooth extraction

The cheapest and simplest alternative to a dental crown is to have the damaged tooth extracted. However, extraction can lead to several problems like the shifting of surrounding teeth. When a tooth is extracted, the surrounding teeth may shift and affect a person’s ability to chew. Shifting can also cause remaining teeth to hit each other, which can lead to a fractured tooth.

If you opt to have the tooth extracted, it is highly recommended to have a dental implant done. Implants keep teeth aligned, allow you to chew without trouble, preserve the health of your jawbone and maintain good dental health.

What To Do If My Dental Crown Falls Out?

If your dental crown falls out, do these few things.

Contact your Dentist Immediately 

Call your dentist right away as a crown that has fallen out is a dental emergency. The underlying tooth is now left weak, unprotected, and vulnerable. In addition, the tooth may be sensitive and painful, so you need to get it reattached as soon as possible.

Recover and Rinse the Crown

Recover the crown and inspect it to see that if there’s any damage to it. If not, then rinse it under water to clean it from any food or debris and store it safely. Since there is no damage, you’ll be able to have the same crown reattached. This will save you both time and money instead of having a new crown made. 

Protect your Tooth

You want to have your crown replaced on the same day it falls out. However, this is not always possible, so you will need to protect your tooth from pain, sensitivity, and infection risk until you can. 

Go to the pharmacy and buy some temporary cement and mould it around the exposed tooth. If you cannot find temporary dental cement, check for dental wax, which can protect the tooth as well. If you use temporary dental cement or dental wax, avoid eating certain foods and chewing on that side of your mouth.

Get your Crown Reattached

If you’ve scheduled a dental emergency appointment, it will not take long for you to see your dentist and have the crown reattached.

How To Take Care Of Dental Crowns

Avoid Sticky and Hard Foods

Dental crowns are durable and strong but can become damaged if you eat sticky or hard foods. In addition, they can break or weaken and loosen your crown, leaving the damaged tooth unprotected.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene Practices

Your crown still requires cleaning just like your normal teeth to maintain good dental health. This means you’ll have to brush and floss as usual. Brushing removes plaque, while flossing removes germs and food particles stuck between the crown and the gumline. If you are dealing with sensitivity even though you have a dental crown, you can use a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Good dental care extends the life of your crown and your natural teeth.

Kick your Bad Habits

If you bite your nails, clench or grind your teeth or use your teeth to open bottle caps, you need to stop right away. These habits can break or chip your crown as well as your natural teeth.

Use a Night Guard

If you have a habit of clenching and grinding your teeth when you sleep, you can benefit from using a nightguard. The night guard can protect your teeth and crown while you sleep.

Foods I Can’t Eat With Dental Crown

These are the foods to avoid eating with a dental crown:

  • Hard Candies
  • Nuts
  • Crunchy fresh vegetables like carrots, broccoli, etc.
  • Sticky desserts,
  • Chewing gum

Final Thoughts

Dental crowns are expensive, but the benefits outweigh the costs. Crowns can restore the function of your badly broken or damaged tooth and protect it from further harm. In addition, they can help eliminate sensitivity issues as well as pain associated with extensive tooth decay.

Book an appointment with a dentist if you are dealing with a fractured, broken, or severely decayed tooth before it’s too late. The dentist will examine the tooth in question and decide on the best treatment plan.

Dr. Ross Bailey

https://peeldentalstudio.com.au

Dr Bailey currently serves on the Australian Dental Association as immediate Past President, and before this has held office as President, Treasurer and Country Councillor. He is on the Australian Dental Association Federal Council and has always been keen to give back to the profession that has been his life. He has tutored young dentists at the Oral Health Centre in Perth, which he has held for over 20 years.