FAQ About Crowns

1. What is a dental crown?

Crowns are often needed when a large cavity threatens the ongoing health of a tooth; to protect the damaged tooth. Bridges are needed when you have tooth or teeth missing. Crowns often require more grinding to natural tooth. (Root canal treatment just need in some special situations).

how long do crowns last

2. What are dental crowns made of?

At Dr Hung & Associates Dental Center, we only use the best dental materials imported directly from the US and Europe.

  • Nano Emax (Ivoclar Vivadent)offer the fit, form and function which is expected from pressed ceramics. In addition, they offer improved flexural strength (400 MPa). With optimized esthetic properties creating all-ceramic restorations that offer true-to-nature results, Nano Emax is usually used for front teeth
  • Non-metal Lava – Ultimate porcelain crown (3M ESPE)is a type of Nano Ceramic resin from the US using the Nano Technology and suitable thermal procedure producing a special compound which is not only as natural as real teeth (therefore can be used for front teeth) but also very hard.
  • Non-metal Full Zirconia porcelain crown (Ivoclar Vivadent)is a type of porcelain crown made only from Zirconia material – a very hard type of non-metal (compressive strength: 1200 MPA). However, as zirconia does not have the natural teeth look, it is usually used for back teeth (especially for crowns on implants) to achieve the best chewing ability. Full Zirconia crown/veneer requires 2 days to be completed.
  • Crystal Ultra Porcelain Crown: suitable for crowns on implants, 3-unit bridges,… At 480 MPa, Crystal Ultra’s compressive strength is the strongest of all of the esthetic all ceramics and ceramic hybrids on the market. Crystal Ultra porcelain crown can be completed within 1 day. Crystal Ultra is registered with the Food And Drugs Administration (FDA).
  • Precious metal crowns (Gold, Platin, Paalladium,…)are crowns with frames made of highly valuable metals such as gold, platin, palladium,… covered with many layers porcelain for good biological impact, hardness and aesthetic factors. The only disadvantage of this solution is its high cost.

3. How do I know if dental crowns are right for me?

While dental crowns can provide a significant cosmetic improvement to your smile, they can also provide strength and protection for damaged or weakened teeth. Our dentist may recommend a dental crown if:

  • Your teeth are severely discolored and unlikely to respond well to professional teeth whitening
  • Your teeth are misshapen or disproportionally small
  • Your teeth are cracked or chipped
  • Your teeth require additional support and strength
  • Your teeth are severely decayed or otherwise damaged
  • You are unable to comfortably chew food
  • Your bite is not aligned properly
  • The chewing surfaces of your teeth are worn down due to bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • The damage to your tooth is too extensive to support a filling, inlay, or onlay
  • You have undergone root canal therapy and need to protect the remaining tooth structure
  • You are replacing a single missing tooth with a dental implant

A suitable candidate for dental crowns must also have healthy gums, because the restorations will work in tandem with the remaining healthy portion of the tooth or dental implant to provide support for the crown.

4. What are the advantages of dental crowns?

Aesthetic Benefits

In addition to restoring the tooth, many dental crowns provide a cosmetic appearance. Obviously, stainless steel and metal crowns have a noticeable look within the mouth, but tooth-colored crowns can provide instant aesthetic improvements. In fact, some dentists use crowns as a cosmetic dentistry treatment. The aesthetic benefits of crowns include:

  • The natural balance and symmetry they can restore to a smile, especially if the tooth involved is particularly prominent or severely damaged.
  • Dental crowns can immediately whiten and straighten the tooth, since the crown covers any imperfections. In addition, porcelain is typically stain-resistant, preventing future discoloration with proper care.
  • While it depends on the specific material used, most tooth-colored crowns are relatively durable, minimizing the risk of future chipping or cracking.
  • Implant-supported crowns and bridges often provide an improved appearance over traditional restorations for missing teeth because they are less likely to shift and behave more like natural teeth, since they are attached to a synthetic root.
  • These restorations can prevent you from feeling less embarrassed of or self-conscious about your smile while also improving your dental health.

Oral Health Benefits

Crowns fortify a damaged tooth to prevent further harm and improve your overall dental health. The oral health benefits of dental crowns may include:

  • Alleviated discomfort: Along with preparatory treatment, placing a dental crown can relieve uncomfortable symptoms of tooth damage, such as sensitivity, toothache, inflammation, halitosis (foul tasting breath), fever, or even a tooth abscess (a pus-filled pimple).
  • Increased chewing ability: Although caps are not meant for chewing tough or overly sticky foods, they can improve a patient’s ability to chew.
  • Improved support: If a tooth has sustained damage, but has enough healthy structure to act as a foundation, dental crowns can give patients an alternative to pulling the tooth or replacing it with a dental implant. Dentists can remove decayed portions of teeth or reshape damaged teeth so that they may accommodate a cap, which will in turn provide support and restore functionality to the tooth.
  • A properly aligned bite: Missing or misshapen teeth can disrupt this balance, leading to temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, a condition that can cause accelerated tooth wear, headaches, and general pain and discomfort. Maintaining a proper, balanced bite is very important to your health, and dental crowns can help your upper and lower teeth to meet properly and comfortably. If a crown is crafted accurately based on your dentist’s calculations, your upper and lower teeth should meet correctly, with pressure equally balanced across your jaws.
  • Decreased wear on other teeth: Having one weaker tooth transfers some of the pressure from chewing to the surrounding teeth, putting them at greater risk. In addition, unresolved decay or infection could also spread to other teeth, so treating these issues and completing treatment with a dental crown can prevent this from occurring.
  • Stronger jawbones: Implant-supported crowns to replace missing teeth often help to prevent degeneration of the jawbone by exercising it through the artificial ceramic or titanium tooth root.
  • Easier dental hygiene: While dental crowns require some special dental care to properly maintain, they are simpler to clean than a broken, decayed, or infected tooth. Easier brushing and flossing benefits your overall oral health.

You may experience additional oral health benefits from your dental crown based on your particular diagnosis and circumstances.

5. What are the risks of crowns?

The risk of complications can be greatly reduced by undergoing treatment with an experienced, reputable dentist. Though the risk is low, the following complications can occur:

  • Nerve damage: The preparation of the tooth can result in nerve damage if the tooth’s surface is penetrated or made too thin. In that case, root canal therapy, or the complete removal of the tooth’s nerves, must be carried out before the dental crown is placed.
  • Increased sensitivity: Alteration of the tooth can result in increased sensitivity to heat and cold. Patients can use special toothpaste to reduce these effects. However, if tooth sensitivity results from an exposed root left uncovered by a crown that is too short, your dentist will need to modify the crown to protect your tooth.
  • TMJ disorder: While dental crowns can correct TMJ disorder, they can also cause it if a dentist does not finish the crown properly, preventing the jaws from resting in a balanced manner. Following placement of a crown, the dentist will generally make several small modifications until the patient’s bite is correct. You should take special note of any discomfort such as headaches or shoulder pain in the months following a dental crown procedure, as this may be a sign of an improperly aligned bite. Talk to your dentist if you experience any of these symptoms.
  • Tooth decay: If a tooth is not properly sealed before the crown is placed, further decay can develop. It is important to remember that crowns are not intended to last a lifetime, so your dentist should continually monitor the tooth beneath the crown for decay or any other issues.
  • A dark line over the gums: While this is a purely cosmetic issue, some patients are upset by the appearance of a dark line or grayish hue over their gums. This is not an indicator of any oral health issues. It is the result of the metal bottom of a porcelain-fused-to-metal or fully metal crown showing through.
  • Dental or periodontal infection: If the crown is too long, short, narrow, or wide, pockets can form in your gums where bacteria can collect. If untreated, this bacterial infection could jeopardize your tooth.
  • Future replacement or repair: While crowns can last up to 15 years with proper dental hygiene and maintenance, they are not made to last forever. You should be aware that you might at some point have to replace your crown. You can be prepared for this eventuality and improve the health of your crown by having your dentist carefully monitor it.
  • Crown displacement: An incorrectly fitted crown or one exposed to excess pressure from chewing can become dislodged or even come off of the tooth. This could be uncomfortable and costly as it would expose the weaker tooth underneath the crown. If this happens to your crown, contact your dentist immediately for an emergency appointment.
  • Damage to opposing teeth: If your crown is not sufficiently smooth, it can erode the chewing surface of the opposing tooth, wearing down the enamel. This could cause tooth sensitivity or other issues with the opposing tooth, as well as making eating uncomfortable. If your crown feels abrasive, ask your dentist to further polish it.

Your dentist will further cover the risks of your procedure at your initial consultation.

 6. How long does it take to fit a dental crown?

Fitting a crown requires at least two visits to Dr Hung & Associates Dental Center’s office. Initially, we will remove decay, shape the tooth, and fit it with a temporary crown of either plastic or metal. On the subsequent visit, we will remove the temporary crown and then fit and adjust the final crown. Finally, we will cement the crown into place and you have a new beautiful looking tooth.

7. Does getting a dental crown hurt?

Most patients require only local anesthesia to remain comfortable during the crown preparation, shaping, and placement processes. Toothache and sensitivity after these procedures are also usually mild, but can be mitigated with a prescription for painkillers. Severe pain from a dental crown is an indication of more serious complications that should be addressed by your dentist.

 8. How long should my dental crown last?

Dental porcelain is strong, but your jaw, natural teeth, and bad habits can be weaken the crown over time. The three most common reasons that dental crowns become weakened and need replacement are:

  • Bite issues: One of the most common reasons that a crown fails is due to bite issues, especially in patients who grind or clench their teeth. Your jaw can exert extreme amounts of pressure, and even the most expertly made dental crowns can break in these situations. Likewise, if the crown was not properly fitted to your bite, or if you have a bite imbalance, you might see your crown fail sooner than expected.
  • Wear and tear: Other bad habits can also put extra pressure on your crown. Chewing on ice, biting your fingernails, and opening plastic packaging with your teeth can all cause the porcelain to chip or break.
  • Decay: Especially with older crowns, decay can become your worst enemy. The crown itself won’t decay or corrode, but your natural tooth underneath the crown is still vulnerable. Good brushing and flossing habits keep your gums healthy, which protect the natural tooth inside a crown. Once the gum recedes around the crown and a margin develops at the edges, decay can creep inside the crown and damage your tooth. In these cases, you may end up needing a root canal if the infection is severe.

If you don’t have any of these problems, but you’re worried because your crown is over 15 years old, the good news is that it doesn’t need to be replaced just because it’s old. Even if the crown chips, we can usually smooth off the chipped surface and the crown will still be functional. For a crown that’s older than 10 or 15 years but in good condition, we’ll simply keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t develop any margins or decay.

9. How thick are dental crowns?

The dimensions of dental crowns depend largely on the materials we used. In general, the thickness can range from 0.5 to two millimeters on the sides and at least 1.5 millimeters on the chewing surface. Metal crowns are often thinner than porcelain crowns. Dental crowns may also need to be thicker or thinner to accommodate particular tooth damage or complications from treatment.

10. Will I be able to tell the crown apart from my teeth?

If you choose a metal crown, it will be easy to tell the crown apart from your teeth. However, tooth-colored crowns can often be made to look indistinguishable from your existing teeth, especially from a distance. The dental crown may feel slightly different than your natural tooth in your mouth, especially if it is not adequately polished or properly fitted. If your crown bothers you, speak to your dentist about how to improve its shape and texture.

11. Can I whiten my dental crown?

No. Dental crown materials do not respond to whitening treatments, meaning that the crown will be a different color among the lightened natural enamel. If you want to whiten your teeth, most dentists recommend that you do so before you receive a dental crown, or that you replace the crown with a lighter material as part of your smile makeover process.

12. What are my alternatives to a dental crown?

In most cases, our dentists recommend dental crowns to restore teeth when other options are insufficient. If you have a missing tooth, you may also be able to replace it with a dental bridge, which typically includes two dental crowns. Fillings, inlays, or onlays may repair decayed teeth if the area of damage is small enough. Cracked or chipped teeth can sometimes be restored with dental bonding instead of a crown, although these treatments can also be combined. If you are using dental crowns as a purely cosmetic treatment, you may be able to achieve a similar whitening, straightening effect with porcelain veneers or a combination of orthodontia and teeth whitening.

13. Can I get orthodontia if I have a crown?

Many adults are now pursuing straightening treatments later in life when they already have restorations like crowns. Fortunately, you can correct crookedness even if you have dental crowns. While possible to use, traditional braces may not attach correctly to crown materials like metal or porcelain, so our dentists and orthodontists recommend using clear plastic aligners that simply slip over the teeth if you have dental crowns. If you are considering replacing your dental crown at the time of orthodontia, most orthodontists recommend waiting until your treatment is complete. In rare cases, orthodontic treatment can disrupt the placement of your crowns.

14. Can children get dental crowns?

Unfortunately, it is possible for a primary (baby) tooth to be so damaged that it requires a crown. Many dentists prefer not to pull a severely infected or decayed baby tooth, because this tooth will hold the space needed for the permanent tooth when it comes in and prematurely missing a baby tooth could put increased pressure on the jawbone and gums.

Typically, our dentists use pre-formed titanium crowns to protect baby teeth, but some parents request tooth-colored crowns for a more cosmetic appearance. Pediatric crowns can be covered with resin, plastic, or a bonded veneer for a more natural look. Some dentists may also make zirconia crowns for children, although these are typically more expensive and therefore reserved for only the anterior (front) teeth that are most visible.