A dental crown is a common type of restoration that forms a “cap” that is individually fit to cover a patient’s tooth. Crowns are commonly placed for the restoration of a tooth’s size and shape, or to enhance its strength and performance. When performed successfully, a dental crown is cemented into place to provide a “suit of armor” that fully protects a tooth.
Some common reasons why you may need a dental crown include:
- Larger cavities where dental fillings are impossible
- Covering dental implants
- Weak, cracked, or worn teeth
- Restoration following a root canal treatment
- For cosmetic purposes like badly shaped teeth or discolored teeth
Before a permanent crown is placed, your dentist will prepare your teeth by removing some of the tooth structure to allow for a proper fit for the crown. A temporary crown offers protection for the altered tooth until the permanent crown is ready. Inexpensive materials like some types of metal or acrylic are used, since temporary crowns are only needed for a few weeks.
Permanent dental crowns are made to last for as long as possible. They are made from materials like resin, ceramic and porcelain. Some are fused with metal. After the creation of your permanent crown, you will return for a final appointment when your dentist will remove your temporary crown and fit you with your new, permanent one using a strong dental adhesive.
A crown may be made from stainless steel when a temporary solution is needed for protecting a tooth while a patient’s permanent crown is being prepared.
Metal dental crowns normally consist of metallic alloys – a mixture of metals – like nickel-chromium and cobalt-chromium. These alloys are designed to increase the strength of the crown so that it can withstand the force of long-term chewing and biting. They rarely break or chip. The only real disadvantage to metal is that it is only suitable for the back of the mouth due to its prominence.
This makes a fine choice for either back or front teeth, or when a dental bridge requires additional strength. The main advantage of this type is its aesthetics, which match the color of nearby teeth.
One disadvantage of porcelain is that it reveals more wear, and can break off or chip.
Durability of Crowns
There are quite a few factors that go into how long a dental crown will last. Some of these include the crown materials, patient lifestyle, and the craftsmanship of the dentist. Properly cared for, your new dental crown can be expected to last anywhere from 5 to 15 years. The longest lasting crowns are those made from porcelain-fused-to-metal and gold materials.