Dental crowns are an incredibly popular and useful tool in dentistry. A crown can hold together a very decayed or partially cracked tooth, restore a broken tooth, cover a large filling, or hide a misshapen or otherwise unattractive tooth. Crowns are generally considered durable and long lasting, and are an excellent alternative to tooth extraction in many cases. However, like any other dental solution, crowns have their own unique pros and cons.
Preserving Tooth Structure
Compared to other alternatives such as dental bridges, crowns preserve healthy structure in the surrounding teeth. Only the damaged portion of the individual tooth is removed, and the crown is placed over the healthy part of the tooth that remains. However, dental crowns also leave the nerve system of the damaged tooth in place. If your tooth is sensitive to heat, cold, or pressure, a crown may not solve those issues.
In general, the prognosis for crowned teeth is reasonably good. The crown acts as a protective cap that can minimize future decay. However, the remaining tooth structure will never be as strong as a healthy tooth. Bacteria can invade beneath the crown, causing further decay and eventually the need for more dental work. You can minimize the risks by maintaining scrupulous oral hygiene.
Types of Dental Crowns
While dental crowns have a reasonably good prognosis overall, not all dental crowns are the same. Each type of crown also has its own benefits and drawbacks.
- CEREC Crowns: The biggest advantage to CEREC crowns is that they can be created and placed in a single appointment. Your dentist will take digital impressions, rather than old-fashioned gooey impressions in a tray, and use 3-D computer aided design (CAD) technology to mill your new crown from porcelain right in the office. Your tooth is prepared and your final crown placed all in the same day. Porcelain is a durable and aesthetic material, but may be subject to chipping from the forces of the opposing teeth.
- All Porcelain Crowns: Lab-created all porcelain crowns are extremely similar to CEREC crowns, but are not made in the dentist’s office. They are sometimes considered more aesthetically pleasing than CEREC crowns, because human artisans perform techniques that are not possible with computer technology. However, you will have to undergo traditional impressions and wear a temporary crown for several days while your new crown is made.
- Porcelain on Metal Crowns: Porcelain on metal crowns are sometimes considered the optimal blend of aesthetics and functionality. The metal understructure provides additional strength and durability, while the porcelain outer layer blends with the natural teeth. However, these crowns can display a dark line at the gums, where the metal shows through. These crowns also require more tooth structure to be removed.
- All Metal Crowns: Cost effective and highly durable, all metal crowns are an excellent choice for back teeth, which must undergo high chewing forces. They typically require less tooth structure to be removed than other types of crowns, and aren’t as hard on the surrounding teeth. However, they are not a good option for front teeth unless you happen to prefer their distinctive look.
Dental crowns are an extremely popular option, and they are the right choice for many people. Like anything else, though, they are not right for everyone. Those with badly failing teeth may prefer a more drastic option, such as tooth extraction and replacement. Those with multiple damaged teeth may prefer dental bridges, which can be less expensive than individual crowns. If you do choose crowns, you will need to select the type of crown that best meets your individual needs, goals, and budget. What to do about troublesome teeth is a major decision that should be undertaken only with a great deal of thought and consideration between you and your dentist.
Family Dental Care of Bellevue provides quality dental care to patients and their families, and has been voted one of the best dental offices in Washington State. Call us today at 425-643-5778 to learn how we can help improve your smile.