Many of us have heard of dental crowns, but you may not know exactly what they are, why they might be needed, how they work, or what the procedure to get a dental crown will look like.

Dental crowns have been used for a long time.

The oldest known crown can be dated back 4,000 years. Back then, crowns were usually made of gold—and they still can be today—but it’s important to know that dental crowns have come a long way since then in terms of durability, likeness to your other teeth, the ways they’re used, and the procedure to get one.

Read below to have 10 common questions about dental crowns answered.

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1: What Are Dental Crowns?

A dental crown, or dental cap, is a restoration that covers the entirety of your tooth. They’re commonly placed over a severely damaged tooth or placed upon a dental implant. Dental caps are used for restorative purposes as well as cosmetic and neuromuscular purposes.

2: Why Would I Need A Crown?

If you’re missing a tooth, have a tooth that is too decayed for a filling, lost a large filling, or had a root canal and need a protective cap, a dental crown may be the solution for you. However, crowns aren’t just used in restorative dentistry, they are also used to support dental bridges and cover teeth that may be discolored or misshapen. Crowns are even used to replace teeth when your natural teeth are contributing to neuromuscular problems like TMJ.

Missing an incisor or canine tooth (teeth located in the front of your mouth) usually prompts people to come to their Spokane dentist for a replacement. Missing a premolar or molar might not seem like a big deal since they are hidden in the back of your mouth, but your teeth aren’t only there for looks, they have important functions and it’s important to replace a tooth when you lose one. Failing to replace a missing tooth can result in an aged face due to jaw bone loss, difficult speech, chewing problems, damage to other teeth, and an increased risk of gum disease. It’s in your best interest to get a crown when it’s needed.

3: What Is The Process For Placing A Dental Crown?

Dental crowns usually take two appointments. At the first appointment, your restorative dentist will inspect the tooth or teeth that need replacing. Taking special care to inspect your gums, Dr. Ken Collins and Dr. Marnie Collins will make sure that you don’t have periodontal disease—gum disease— so that you have the best chance of crown success. If you do have gum disease, doctors Ken Collins and Marnie Collins will treat the condition before moving forward with your new restoration.

Next, your restorative dentist will numb the area and prepare the tooth by removing a small amount to make room for the crown. This ensures proper adhesion. Once the tooth or teeth are prepared, your dentist will take an impression of the tooth and areas around the tooth so a custom crown can be created to fit your mouth. The impression will be sent to a lab and you’ll be fitted with a temporary crown. This crown won’t be as strong as your final crown, but it will fit securely and protect your tooth until your permanent restoration is ready.

At your second and final appointment, your temporary crown will be gently removed, and your permanent crown placed. Your dentist in Spokane will then inspect the new crown to ensure that the color, fit, and occlusion are optimal.

If you’re getting a crown on top of a dental implant, the procedure will be much the same except instead of preparing the tooth, your dentist will place your implant and allow it time to heal before setting your permanent crown.

4: How Long Will My Dental Crown Last?

The average lifespan of a dental cap is 15 years. However, if you have good oral hygiene habits and take care of your teeth and crown, they’ve been known to last upwards of 25 – 30 years.

5: Will I Have A Dark Line Near My Gum?

If you have an old crown or cap, you’re likely familiar with the dark line that can appear near your gums after a while. This is due to the material used. Crowns that may produce a dark line are made of a porcelain/metal hybrid. Also called, porcelain fused to metal crowns (PFM), they are more attractive than a purely metal crown. However, after time, the underlying metal may show near the gum line.

Not to worry though. Today, we can create a crown using a porcelain material that matches very closely with the color of your teeth and won’t produce a dark line over time.

6: How Do I Take Care Of My Crown?

Take care of your crowns just like you would your natural teeth. Brush your teeth twice per day, floss, and make dental visits twice a year a habit that you keep. It is also a good idea to avoid very sticky or hard foods like jolly ranchers and popcorn kernels.

Kicking your bad habits will help, too. Just like your natural teeth, it will make a big difference for the health of your crown to avoid chewing on non-food items like your nails or pencils.

One last tip—if you know your grind your teeth at night, it might be a good idea to get fitted with a night mouthguard to protect your new crown and the rest of your teeth! Doctors Ken and Marnie Collins can help you get fitted with a night mouthguard if necessary.

7: What Is The Best Material For A Dental Crown?

There are three different types of dental crowns. Gold, porcelain/metal hybrid (PFM), or porcelain.

  • Gold: Gold crowns have been used for a long time and are still used today. However, with the price of gold going steadily up, these aren’t the most cost-effective option. Not to mention, they won’t blend in with the rest of your teeth. Still, gold crowns are very durable and will last 20 – 40 years depending on how you treat them.
  • Porcelain/Metal Hybrid: These crowns are exactly as they sound. They’re made of metal that covers your tooth, with porcelain ceramic covering the metal. These are much more attractive than all-metal options because they more closely match the color of your natural teeth. This type of crown is durable as well and can last 10 – 15 years.
  • Porcelain: Porcelain crowns are made of porcelain. Traditionally, they weren’t the most durable material to use for a crown, but technological advances have made them more durable than they used to be. Porcelain crowns match very closely with your natural teeth making them the most popular choice. Lasting on average 15 years but can last 25 – 30 years if you take good care of them.

8: What Is The Difference Between A Dental Crown And An Implant?

Dental implants are the artificial tooth root that is fused into your mandible. The crown is the restoration that is placed atop the implant.

9: How Long After An Implant Can My Dental Crown Be Placed?

After a dental implant is placed, there is a healing period that can last anywhere from 4 to 6 months. However, while you’re waiting for your implant to heal, you’ll have a temporary crown that blends in well with your natural teeth. The temporary crown won’t be as durable as your permanent crown, so your Spokane dentist will have instructions on how to care for it.

10: Can Dental Crowns Break Or Decay?

Dental crowns can break due to injury, chewing on non-food items, and grinding (bruxism). Luckily, your dentists in Spokane can repair your crowns if they become chipped or broken.

Decay can occur under dental crowns. The crown sits atop your tooth so a cap that is not fitted properly or kept clean can develop bacteria under the crown and cause decay.

Gum disease can also plague your crown. Gum disease or periodontal disease causes inflammation in your gums and when left untreated, can cause your gums to recede. Receding gums leave a gap between your crown and gum, making room for food particles to get stuck and bacteria to grow. Additionally, receding gums expose your tooth’s root which is susceptible to disease and decay.

Do You Need A Dental Crown?

Are you looking for dental crowns in the Spokane Washington area? Doctors Ken and Marnie Collins of Collins Dentistry and Aesthetics can help. Call (509) 532-1111 or contact us online to make an appointment.