Dental crowns are outer casings that look and function just like natural teeth. In many cases, they shield a salvageable but vulnerable and unattractive tooth from decay or other ailments. Crowns are also placed on top of the roots of teeth following a root canal or as the outer prosthetic portion of a dental implant.
In the context of cosmetic dentistry here at Elegant Dentistry in Marina del Rey, crowns are a counterpart of veneers, but rather than cover only the front portion of the tooth, they fully encapsulate it. Like veneers, crowns restore the look, feel, and function of teeth that are either damaged, vulnerable, or discolored.
What types of crowns are there?
Traditionally, dental crowns were made of metal, as with the gold-capped teeth we still see today. 21st-century fashions notwithstanding, modern dentistry largely favors porcelain-fused-to-metal and other types of crowns for their strength, longevity, and more natural appearance. Today’s zirconia crowns are proven effective and practically indistinguishable from a patient’s natural teeth and are typically more than sufficiently durable to last indefinitely.
It is also worth noting that zirconia, unlike most metals, is hypoallergenic which means there is next to no chance of a reaction. As some readers may know, zirconia in its natural state is a metal; however, when used for dental purposes it goes through a chemical process that essentially recategorizes it as a ceramic.
How are dental crowns installed?
As with any dental procedure, the first step in obtaining a crown for cosmetic and/or protective purposes is to schedule a consultation with a dentist to look at the situation. Once a date and material have been agreed to, the tooth or teeth in question will be thoroughly cleaned before the crown is affixed over the remainder of the natural tooth, creating a seal that keeps bacteria and other contaminants out of unprotected areas. The installation of the crown may involve local anesthesia. Sedation is typically not needed.
The process can be different in some cases. Because of the increased complexity of installing a dental implant or performing a root canal, a temporary crown is usually installed first to protect the implant. Once the implant is deemed settled and safe, a permanent crown will then be attached to the implant site.
What other options do I have?
While crowns serve as cosmetic, preventative, and functional aids, sometimes other treatment methods are more practical and effective. For example, ceramic inlays can seal up a small, vulnerable area in an otherwise healthy tooth. Or, in the event that a tooth is simply too far gone to be salvaged by a root canal or other procedure, extraction and subsequent dental implant may be a better option and the crown will come at the end of that process. Patients who are missing or have damaged several adjacent teeth may also benefit more from a dental bridge, which functions in a similar manner to a crown.
Questions and Answers About Dental Crowns
How long do dental crowns last?
Generally speaking, dental crowns last upwards of 5 to 15 years; however, many factors play a role in a crown’s longevity. With proper upkeep and good dental hygiene, patients can expect a longer lifespan from their dental crowns.
Is it painful to have a dental crown installed?
While some discomfort may be experienced during a procedure, anesthesia keeps patients virtually pain free while the work is being done. Some minor soreness may be experienced after the procedure, but over-the-counter medications are usually sufficient.
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At Elegant Dentistry, we are proud to offer our patients the full range of oral healthcare services. For more information, please feel free to give us a call at the number on your screen or visit our contact page.