October 14, 2021 by Dr. Abhi Singh

What Is Dental Crowns: What You Need to Know Before Getting One

Dental crowns are an extremely effective way to repair damaged teeth or to cover up some dental imperfections. It is one of the most common dental restorations used to bring back or even enhance your smile and give you a better set of teeth again.

Quality crowns provide strength and stability for your remaining teeth, as well as preventing any future tooth loss or damage. However, before getting a dental crown, there are some things that you should know.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about dental crown procedures, from the cost of getting one, what happens during the procedure, to what you need to do to care for them after. Please continue reading to find out why and how they can be beneficial to your oral health and function.

What are Dental Crowns?

A dental crown is a covering or a cap for a tooth that has been weakened by decay or injury. It can be made from gold, metal, porcelain, ceramic, and even tooth-coloured resin. The purpose of the crown is to restore the strength and integrity of your tooth so it can perform its normal function. They work by covering the entire tooth and providing it with structural support and protection from damage. 

A dental crown is a custom cap on a tooth to restore its natural shape and size. It can also strengthen an entire tooth when there is too much damage to its structure. Crowns can also be used to enhance a person’s smile by restoring badly discoloured or stained teeth.

Your experienced dentist will suggest what material is best suited for your situation. Dental crowns are usually prescribed when there isn’t enough natural tooth structure left to hold a dental filling, if you have badly broken teeth that need increased strength and protection or if you have undergone a root canal treatment and need a good final restoration for your teeth.  

Types of Dental Crowns

Porcelain-fused-to-metal Crowns

A combination of porcelain and metal is the most frequent restorative material used for crowns and bridges. Porcelain and metal are two of the most durable materials, and when heated together, the porcelain chemically bonds to the oxides on the metal, forming a solid bond.

These are stronger than conventional porcelain crowns since they are supported by an underlying metal structure that gives them the strength to withstand biting forces and the aesthetic of the porcelain allows it to blend well with your other teeth.

Metal & Gold Crowns

Metal crowns come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours. They are fracture-resistant and do not erode teeth. Gold  palladium, nickel, and chromium are frequently used to make these crowns. Non-noble metals are sometimes used in metal crowns that are incredibly strong and resistant to corrosion.

Before attaching a crown, the underlying tooth structure must be shaped to accommodate the crown. Metal-based crowns are a more conservative option because they require minimal preparation or tooth structure removal.

Stainless Steel Crowns (SSCs)

Crowns made of stainless steel are used for primary (baby) teeth. SSCs are utilized following pulpotomy treatment or when standard cavity filling materials, such as amalgam fillings, are expected to fail.

Occasionally, it is created to temporarily restore a child’s permanent tooth until it is replaced with permanent porcelain or metal crown, allowing it to serve as a space maintainer.  

Cosmetic Crowns (Ceramic)

A porcelain crown is an excellent option for people who want the crown to look and feel like natural teeth. Porcelain is a material used to create ceramic crowns. It is used in dentistry to fabricate tooth-coloured dental products, such as cosmetic crowns, that replicate the natural appearance of teeth, form, and function.

Crowns are used to restore teeth that have been damaged due to age or disease. They closely resemble natural teeth in colour and shape, and they are very durable. Zirconia is a metal that is the most frequent alternative to all-ceramic crowns.

All-Resin Crowns

All-resin restoration is the cheaper alternative to metal, ceramic, gold, or porcelain crowns. However, it is essential to note that dentists recommend this type less than the others because it is more fragile in comparison with other materials, so it is likely to crack and have a shorter lifespan.

In comparison with other dental restoration materials, the resin is less durable and more fragile. It is generally used on decayed baby teeth rather than permanent teeth.

Common Signs You Need A Dental Crown

  • Chipped or cracked teeth: Due to a variety of reasons, healthy teeth can occasionally break. In cases of repeated fillings, trauma, nighttime grinding (bruxism), jaw clenching or other detrimental habits, the tooth is more likely to crack due to the constant load it takes. The dentition will be subjected to continual biting pressure, as a result, causing the structure of the tooth to become fragile.

In this situation, a crown is highly recommended, depending on the severity of the crack. Since the tooth was already fractured, a dental crown must be attached to minimise the risk of infection and prevent additional breakage. However, if you tend to grind or clench your jaw when you sleep, mouthguards will be recommended in addition to treating your cracked or chipped tooth. 

  • A decayed tooth: A bacterial infection causes tooth decay, or dental caries. Acid is produced by the bacteria, specifically Streptococcus Mutans, which eats away at the enamel of your teeth and forms a cavity on the outer layer if not removed. When a cavity goes untreated, it can weaken and do further damage to the structure of the teeth. If caries is removed with a direct filling, a dental crown can be an option to safeguard the remaining healthy original tooth structure.

In addition, if your tooth is decaying to the extent where it is harming neighbouring teeth, you might consider getting a dental cap. It will stop the bacteria from spreading and becoming harmful in other areas of your mouth as well.

  • A large filling: Teeth can become more fragile with age, and in some cases, large older regular fillings are not secure. Dentists recommend dental crowns as the ideal replacement for these types of oral health issues because they look better and give much-needed strength to your teeth. 
  • Restoration failure: A crown procedure is an option when the restoration will impact the survival of the tooth. A tooth with a major restoration might easily fracture. A crown should be placed over it to ensure that the tooth is properly functioning and lasts longer. The restoration alone will not be enough to hold the tooth in place. The tooth may fracture or crack if a high-impact or constant heavy masticating (chewing) force is directly applied.
  • Aesthetic appearance: – Teeth alignment, form, and colour are all associated with a person’s appearance. A person who is dissatisfied with their front teeth may want to undergo cosmetic dental treatment. Cosmetic dentistry typically addresses tooth discolouration, irregular tooth shape, and gapped teeth. This is the case when crowns or veneers are recommended.
  • Replacing missing teeth: Crowns are one of the great ways to restore your smile. A dental crown can be used as a replacement tooth that can be secured by a dental implant. The implant is screwed into the jaw bone, and once osseointegration is completed, the prosthesis is attached on top. Typically, dental crowns, dental bridges, and dentures are the most common prostheses.

Contraindications to dental crowns

Dental Crowns for Root Canal Treated Teeth

The major risk of developing a fractured tooth is significantly higher among people who have had root canal treatment. Most teeth have significant dental decay (caries), causing notable damage to the tooth structure that reaches the pulp; thus, they are treated with root canal therapy. In this procedure, the tooth becomes non-vital or without a blood supply, making it less sturdy under continuous chewing pressure. The goal is to restore the tooth to its optimal state of function. However, not all root canal treated teeth are designed for crowning. Crowns are not as highly recommended for root canal treated front teeth since they still have adequate structure and are not subjected to heavy chewing or mastication forces. In addition, root canal teeth on the opposing denture may not be crowned because they receive minimal pressure compared to natural teeth.  

Dental Crowns for Vital Teeth

Teeth are essential for both oral function and total appearance. The front teeth, in particular, are significant elements of a person’s overall facial appearance for the majority of people. If your teeth are in excellent condition but misaligned or discoloured, or if they have gaps, you may have a great dental function but not a good appearance. Crowns on these teeth will provide both a beautiful look and function. You’ll still have healthy teeth under your crowns, just with tougher porcelain covering that protects them from tooth decay. Since the tooth must be ground and shaped to prepare for the crown, it can cause damage to a likewise healthy tooth. Usually, people who already have good dental health can consider a veneer if they want cosmetic improvements with minimal tooth structure sacrificed.

Benefits of Dental Crown

Crowns are used to repair and restore damaged teeth and cover gaps left by missing teeth. A crown, often known as a cap, covers all or a portion of a damaged tooth. A crown not only strengthens a tooth but also improves its appearance, shape, and alignment.

Procedure to Prepare a Tooth for A Crown

Typically, a dental practice requires two dental appointments to complete the restorative treatment.

On the first dental visit, a professional dentist examines and takes an x-ray of the patient’s mouth. The tooth is then prepared by reshaping and contouring, depending on the type of crown. Thin metal crowns require the least amount of enamel loss because they are thinner.

A temporary crown is fitted over the tooth after successful tooth preparation, and while the permanent crown is fabricated in a dental laboratory.

On the second visit, which typically happens after three weeks, the temporary crown is replaced with a permanent crown. Your dentist will ensure that the dental crown’s shade matches your other natural teeth and that it fits in your mouth well before cementing it for good.

Local anaesthetic is used when shaping vital teeth. However, some dentists use anaesthesia when preparing root canal treated teeth as the instruments come close to the gingival tissues. This drug numbs the area being treated, ensuring that you do not feel any discomfort during the procedure. Then, to keep the crown in place, dental cement is used.

Cost of A Dental Crown

Dental crowns are not always less expensive than other dental treatments. However, they vary in price. Understanding what the typical crown costs are in your location and what your local clinic charges will help you make the best decision that fits your budget.

The price of a dental crown is determined by the type of tooth it is needed for and whether it’s made of ceramic, porcelain, or metal. Full crowns made of ceramic and porcelain may cost between $1580 and $2,100, according to the 2020 national dental fee survey. On the other hand, a veneered crown will set you back at approximately $1534.

If you need a dental checkup or x-rays, the total price will be closer to $100. If you want to re-cement a crown, you’ll pay around $141 in Western Australia.

How to Care for a Temporary Dental Crown

With a temporary crown, you’ll want to be particularly careful because the temporary cement is only intended to be used for short periods.

Brush your teeth as normal, but be extra cautious. You should also avoid flossing vigorously around the area of the temporary crown. When flossing, try to pull the floss out from the side of the tooth instead of snapping it upward, which might damage or uproot the crown. Call your dentist as soon as the temporary crown falls off or breaks while you wait for a permanent one. Your dentist can re-cement it or fabricate a new one.

Also, avoid eating anything that might dislodge or break the temporary crown during this period, including:

  • Foods that are chewy or sticky 
  • Foods that are hard and crunchy
  • It is also recommended that you chew on the opposite side of your mouth. 

Problems That May Arise With a Dental Crown

  • Sensitivity: Tooth sensitivity is normal after a tooth crowning procedure. You should call your dentist if you continue to experience pain, especially when biting, so they can fix the issue.
  • Loose crown: The cement that attaches the crown to the tooth may dissolve, making the crown shift. Having a loose crown exposes the normal tooth to bacteria, which eventually causes infection and tooth decay. Contact your dentist immediately if you believe the crown may be loose.
  • Years of agony after crowning: Painful teeth could be a sign of an infection or nerve trauma. If you experience pain years after getting crowns, it’s essential to contact your dentist so they can examine the problem and treat it accordingly if necessary.
  • An aching tooth after a crown: This may indicate that you have a loose crown or an infection, and if the tooth is not fixed soon enough, it could cause more damage. Contacting your dentist immediately is recommended.
  • Crown falls out: If the crown of your tooth falls out, schedule a dentist appointment right away to get it replaced. Keep the crown in a safe place and avoid chewing on the exposed tooth.
  • Chipped crown: A chip in your dental crown can be fixed, but if the damage is too large it will need to be replaced. Regardless, you should tell your dentist if your permanent crown is chipped. You will save yourself time and money if you get it repaired right away.
  • Metal allergy: Dental crowns are sometimes composed of a variety of metals. The patient may have an allergic reaction to the metal or porcelain used in the dental crown in rare cases.

Do’s and Don’ts When You Have a Dental Crown

You might think that because your tooth is crowned, it’s protected from decay or gum disease. Make sure to follow good oral hygiene practices like brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily, especially around the crown area where you’ll see more plaque. Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash every single night will also help keep dental problems at bay.

Within the first 24 hours after receiving your permanent crown, you need to avoid sticky food. After that, you can resume your usual diet and dental routine. However, it is recommended that you avoid chewing on hard food where your dental crown is, or that you break the food in pieces before eating them.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid:

You will have diet restrictions once you receive your permanent dental crown. It would help if you avoided the following: 

  • Hard or crunchy foods such as seeds and nuts can chip or break your restoration.
  • Sticky foods like taffy, gum, and candies. These foods can damage or dislodge your dental crown. When choosing snacks, keep your dental crown in mind.
  • If you have the habit of chewing on ice, it is crucial that you should stop doing so as it can cause cracks and damage to your dental crown.
  •  Consuming cooked vegetables instead of raw vegetables is advisable. Unlike raw vegetables, cooked vegetables are softer; thus, they will not damage your quality dental restoration.

Aside from avoiding the kinds of food listed above, there are other lifestyle changes you need to make to preserve your dental crown and the health of your other teeth:

  • Using your teeth as tools: Using your teeth as a tool is never a bright idea. Avoid using your teeth to open bags, bite your fingernails, rip tags from clothing, uncork crowns or even to uncap a bottle. Doing so will damage your natural teeth and dental crowns.
  • Brushing and flossing regularly: Dental crowns can be treated the same way as natural teeth. By brushing and flossing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste meant for sensitive teeth and soft-bristled brushes, you will keep your dental crown in better condition.
  • Regular dental appointments Schedule a dental appointment with your dentist every six months for cleanings and checkups. In any case, this practice is equally important, whether you have a dental crown or not.
  • Avoid stain-causing foods and drinks: Most dental crowns are created from high-quality, stain and discolouration-resistant porcelain. Still, some dark-coloured foods and beverages can change the shade of your teeth over time. Also, it will alter the colour of your natural teeth, making them appear darker, duller, or yellower than the dental crown.

How to Care for the Dental Crown After Final Restoration

Once the crown is in place, it is critical that you maintain it well, as proper maintenance will increase the lifespan of your crown.

Flossing: Crowns are susceptible to plaque accumulation because of their thin margins on the edges. Gingivitis, tartar buildup, and gum disease will be more likely if you don’t floss around your crown regularly. Flossing may help you avoid these problems.

The process of flossing your crown is similar to that of flossing your teeth, but it takes a little more practice. It is necessary to hug the side of your crown, carefully placing it just below the gum tissue on each side and rubbing it down and up to remove any buildups.

Brushing: Keep an eye on the gum lines as you’re brushing your teeth. To clean along the edge of your crown, gently angle the brush toward your gum tissues. It is also beneficial to use an electric toothbrush.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and avoid using abrasive products. Anything gritty, such as baking soda, could scratch the surface of your dental crown. Those scratches will cause dullness and discolouration on the cap as it develops stain buildup in the tiny cracks formed over time. Use mild toothpaste with fluoride instead.

Use a mouth guard: You might be in danger of breaking your dental work if you have a habit of clenching and grinding while sleeping. If you have been diagnosed with chronic bruxism, then it is possible that you could end up with a broken dental crown, even if it is made of ceramic or porcelain. A mouthguard should be worn at night to prevent upper and lower teeth from grinding against each other. By making this small investment, you may avoid the need for costly dental work in the future.

A dental cleaning every six months: Early intervention is essential because it can help you avoid more difficult and expensive treatment later. Having your crown professionally cleaned is an excellent idea since the margins of these teeth tend to accumulate more plaque than in other areas. There is a possibility that this could lead to gum disease or decay and result in serious dental health concerns.

How Long Do Crowns Usually Last?

Dental crowns generally last between five and fifteen years, depending on your diet, habits and lifestyle. Some crowns are more durable than others so that they can last longer. But several factors may influence how long they last. According to researchers, variations in crown placement and other factors may affect the results. 

Gold crowns and porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are generally the most durable and long-lasting.

Despite looking more natural, ceramic restoration and porcelain crowns are not as sturdy as metal or porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. A resin crown, however, wears down more rapidly than all the other types.

Final Thoughts

 The process for getting a dental crown is not as bad as it may seem at first glance. Most people who have undergone this procedure say that they were pleasantly surprised by how painless and effortless it was. 

 If you’re feeling apprehensive about getting one, please don’t hesitate to contact Byford Smiles (08 9532 0247) today. We are here to answer any questions you might have, and we do our best to make sure all patients feel comfortable during their time with us, no matter what stage of treatment they are currently undergoing. So call now if you need help deciding whether a dental crown is suitable for you, and get ready for an experience unlike any you’ve had before.

AboutDr. Abhi Singh
Dr Abhi is a member of the Australian Dental Association and loves living and working in our community. He has over a decade of experience in all aspects of dentistry with a special interest in implants, wisdom teeth removal and cosmetic dentistry.