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What You Need To Know About Your Dental Crown In Houston, TX

Check out our patients’ frequently asked questions about dental crowns…

By Jennifer
Photography by Pete

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A dental crown is a type of dental restoration used to cover the entire tooth and strengthen it. It is often used to fix severe tooth decay and broken teeth when a tooth filling isn’t enough. This is especially common for root canals since your tooth will need a crown’s extra strength and durability. Crowns can be made from porcelain; metals like gold, palladium, nickel, and chromium; or a combination of the two. While all-porcelain crowns are the most popular, metal and porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns can be just as good, depending on your specific needs.

When your dentist recommends getting a tooth crown, you may have more than a few questions. Chief among them are most likely: do you need a crown, which type is best, how long do crowns last, and how much do they cost? We’re here to answer those questions and more so that you know everything necessary to feel confident going into your appointment.

Do I Really Need A Crown?

Dental crowns are used for a variety of reasons. In some cases, your dentist may give you a choice between a crown and a filling or some other restoration work. While a tooth filling can work in a pinch, such as sealing a tooth after a root canal, they’re nowhere near as extensive or robust as a crown. If a dental crown is suggested, then the odds are that it is your best bet. Some of the reasons you may need a dental crown include—

Severe Cavities: A filling can repair small dental cavities, but deeper and more extensive damage requires a crown. This is particularly common with root canals, which make the tooth weaker and more brittle. Sealing the tooth with a dental crown is typically the most reliable way to protect it from future tooth decay or impacts.

Fractured or Broken Teeth: Like severe dental decay, fractures and breaks can significantly damage a tooth enough that a dental crown is needed to repair and reinforce it. Without a crown, the tooth will be vulnerable to decay, infection, and further breaks.

Teeth With Excessive Fillings: Too many fillings or a single large filling in a single tooth can weaken the tooth. If there isn’t much of your tooth’s structure remaining, you may require a dental crown to properly strengthen and reinforce the tooth.

Replacing Missing Teeth: Dental crowns are essential parts of both dental implants and dental bridges. An implant is a titanium screw embedded in the jaw, where it acts as a root. A crown is attached to the implant via an abutment, completing the tooth. With a dental bridge, your false tooth is connected to two dental crowns. These crowns are placed on the teeth on either end of your tooth gap so that the new tooth can fill the space in-between.

How Long Does It Take To Put On A Crown?

Dental crowns are typically completed in two appointments. During the first visit, the crowns dentist will remove any dental decay or injured tissues. Since the crown covers the entire tooth, your dentist must reshape the enamel to fit it. A digital impression is taken of your tooth, which is sent to a lab to make your crown. In the meantime, a temporary crown is put on the tooth to protect your inner tooth until a permanent one is ready. This entire first appointment is typically 45 to 90 minutes long.

The second visit, where you receive your permanent dental crown, is much shorter. Replacing the temporary crown and cementing the final one in place usually only requires 20 to 30 minutes. The dentist will check that the crown fits and looks like it should, adjusting the color, shape, and bite as necessary.

Does Getting A Crown Hurt?

Not at all! Before starting your procedure, the dentist will apply a local anesthetic agent, which takes only a few minutes to numb the entire tooth and the surrounding tissues. Once in effect, your dental crown procedure should be no less comfortable or stressful than a simple dental filling, even if you need a root canal. However, patients with dental anxiety or who need multiple crowns in a day can also request dental sedation like nitrous oxide or oral sedation. Sedation helps further provide pain relief while keeping your mind as calm and comfortable as your body.

What Is The Purpose Of A Temporary Crown?

Temporary dental crowns are typically used to help seal and protect the tooth during the period before you receive your permanent crown. They are placeholder crowns only made to last the few weeks or months between your first and last dental crown appointment. They are not made of as sturdy materials as your permanent crown, and a weaker bonding cement is used to make replacing it easy. Temporary dental crowns can be made of different materials, including acrylic resins, composites, or stainless steel.

How Long Do Dental Crowns Last?

On average, a dental crown will last anywhere between 5 and 15 years. However, this can vary widely depending on the types of dental crowns and your dental hygiene and maintenance.

  • All-Porcelain: Porcelain crowns often last up to 10 or 15 years. They can sometimes last more than 20 or 25 years with excellent care.
  • PFM: PFM crowns have a similar lifespan, though their metal base allows them to take on more impacts and daily pressure than all-porcelain.
  • Metal: Metal crowns are much more durable and have typical lifespans of 20 to 30 years.
  • Gold: Gold crowns are the longest-lasting, often staying in pristine condition for 40 to 50 years or even a lifetime.

Which Porcelain Crown Is Best?

All-porcelain crowns are the most commonly used type of dental crown due to their unmatched aesthetics. They are especially popular for front teeth, where you want your restoration to look as natural as possible and blend in closely with the rest of your smile. All-porcelain crowns are also entirely metal-free, which makes them great for patients with metal allergies. However, all-porcelain crowns are more expensive than PFM ones. And while durable, they’re not quite as strong as PFM crowns, so they risk cracking or chipping if you eat something too hard or have a dental injury.

PFM crowns are made from a metal base covered by a porcelain exterior. The metal base keeps these crowns from appearing quite as realistic as all-porcelain. However, they can still provide a natural-looking fit. PFM crowns are also more robust and sturdier than their all-porcelain siblings and much less likely to crack or chip under pressure. For this reason, they are often used for larger cavities and breaks or on back teeth. They can also be a good choice for patients who have a nightly habit of grinding or clenching their teeth.

Ultimately, which choice works best depends on your specific needs and preferences. Patients with a broken back tooth or on a tighter budget may better benefit from a PFM crown, while those who need a front tooth repaired might want all-porcelain instead.

Is A Gold Crown Better Than Porcelain?

Gold can be an incredible option for patients who don’t mind a dental crown that isn’t tooth-colored. Gold crowns are often used on out-of-sight back teeth like molars. We still recommend getting a porcelain crown for front teeth or patients with metal allergies instead. Besides aesthetics, gold crowns are often much better than porcelain crowns in most other ways:

  • Metal crowns, in general, are resistant to chipping or cracking, and gold ones take this to the next level because they wear down at the same rate as natural enamel.
  • They also don’t wear down the teeth opposite them, which is especially great for patients with teeth clenching and grinding problems.
  • Gold crowns require less significant tooth reshaping than porcelain, so more of the tooth’s structure is left intact.
  • On average, gold dental crowns last decades longer than even the best porcelain crown. They can last 50 years to a lifetime with great care.

How Much Does A Crown Cost?

Your treatment’s cost depends on the materials used. All-porcelain is the most expensive due to its unrivaled cosmetic appeal, while silver metal crowns are on the other end of the scale. Gold and PFM crowns land in the middle between these two due to gold’s unmatched longevity and PFM’s combination of aesthetics and durability. Supplementary treatments like root canals, dental implant surgery, or dental sedation are not included in your dental crown cost.

Dental crowns are also partially covered by dental insurance, with half often being provided. However, we recommended checking your specific level of coverage with your provider. Our dental office also offers alternative financing options, both in-house and through outside services, to help our patients keep their dental treatments affordable.

Do you need a dental crown? Call today to schedule an appointment with a crowns dentist at Nu Dentistry Houston.

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