Dental crowns are a type of dental restoration that encircles the entire tooth, giving it the look and function of a natural tooth. It is placed over the visible portion of the tooth structure and generally held in place with dental cement.
Dental crowns are used for a variety of reasons, including restoring a fractured, broken, or damaged tooth, covering dental implants, protecting a weak tooth from fracture after a root canal treatment, and cosmetically enhancing a person’s smile.
Depending on the type of material used and a patient’s hygiene habits, a dental crown can last an average 15 years or more.
The quality of your dental crown is a major factor that will determine how long it may last. Higher quality materials and craftsmanship tend to yield longer lasting crowns, whereas cheaper options may not last as long.
Types of dental crowns and their average lifespan
Some crowns take a couple of weeks to manufacture, in which case you will be given a temporary crown that is not as durable as the permanent crown. Temporary crowns last 2 to 3 weeks.
These are the different materials that are used for a permanent dental crown and as a result, some are expected to last longer than others.
- Composite resin crowns typically last between 3 and 8 years.
- Stainless steel crowns can last up to 10 years.
- Porcelain crowns can last anywhere from 5 to 15 years. This type of crown is popular for restoring the front teeth.
- Ceramic crowns last around 15 years. This type of crown is commonly used over a dental implant.
- Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns (PFM crowns) may last up to 15 years.
- Zirconia crowns are some of the strongest types of crowns and can last 15 to 20 years.
- Metal alloy crowns, such as those made from gold alloys and other metals, can endure a higher level of wear and generally last 20 years or more. Although they’re not as common, gold crowns are the best for the back teeth (molars) because of their durability.
Lastly, it is important to understand that anything which causes the underlying tooth to become damaged or deteriorate, such as poor oral hygiene or gum disease, can also cause the crown itself to become weakened and need replacement.
Ways to ensure the proper care of your dental crowns
Having dental crowns placed is a major investment in your oral health. Their lifespan varies depending on the material they are made from and how well they’re taken care of. To help extend the life of your new crown, we recommend following these suggestions.
1. Maintain good dental hygiene habits. Proper oral hygiene is essential, not just to ensure the longevity of a crown, but also for the sake of your other teeth.Your crowns should be brushed and flossed just like your natural teeth to prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar. Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day to remove any food particles that may accumulate around the restoration. Finally, use an antibacterial mouthwash to reduce the risk of plaque buildup and tooth decay.
2. Avoid eating sticky or chewy foods. Candies, like chewy caramels, taffy, chewing gum, may pull the crown off and loosen it.
3. Avoid biting down or chewing on hard objects. Hard foods like nuts, ice cubes, and hard candy can chip, crack, or break your dental crown, as well as habits like biting on pen caps.
4. Avoid using your teeth to cut or open things. Using your teeth to open bottles, crack the shell of nuts, open sealed packages, and rip off sales tags can loosen, crack, or dislodge your dental crown entirely.
5. Wear a dental guard if you grind your teeth. Due to the bite force, teeth grinding or clenching can damage all of your teeth, including your crown.
6. Visit your dentist every six months. Regular dental visits that include thorough cleanings and check-ups are important for catching any problems early and helping to ensure your crowns stay in good condition.
How do you know when your crowns need to be replaced?
These are the warning signs that your dental crown has to be checked and possibly replaced.
- Visible cracks or chips – If you notice any cracks, chips, or discoloration on the crown when examining it in the mirror then it is possible that it needs to be replaced.
- Fractured or broken – If your dental crown is fractured or broken then it should be replaced to prevent bacteria from entering and deteriorating the crown and underlying tooth.
- Receding gums – When your gums are receding they can expose the base of your crown and make it more prone to cracking, loosening, and bacteria entering the tooth. The gum line can change over time due to age or other factors, which can cause a crown to become loose or ill-fitting. When plaque and bacteria builds up around the edges of the crown, it can lead to decay in both the natural tooth and the restoration itself.
- Sensitivity – If you experience increased sensitivity in the area where your crown is located while eating or drinking, have it checked out by your dentist.
- Loose crown – If you notice that your dental crown has become loose, this means that it is not providing the protection it should and therefore needs to be replaced. Crowns can become loose over time due to natural changes in the shape of your teeth.
- Poor fit – If your crown does not fit correctly and is causing pain and discomfort in your mouth when eating, it needs to be adjusted or replaced.
- Decay or cavities – If you have decay or cavities in the crowned tooth or any of the adjacent teeth, then the first step is to have the tooth repaired and the crown inspected. Once a dental crown becomes damaged, it can no longer protect the tooth and should be replaced as soon as possible so that the health of the underlying tooth isn’t compromised.
If you are experiencing any of the above issues with your dental crown, it is important to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists. They will be able to assess the situation and determine if it is necessary to replace the crown.
Do you have to wear crowns forever?
Dental crowns are used to protect teeth, strengthen and repair the dental structure, and for cosmetic purposes. They are often also used in conjunction with another treatment plan such as bridges, implants, and root canals to restore the function and aesthetics of a patient’s smile.
Being that they are a permanent solution for dental and cosmetic problems, if you currently have or need dental crowns, you will have to have them forever. While they are very durable and can last up to 15 years or more, they will eventually need to be replaced.
Our team of experts at Kootenai Dental Group in Coeur d’Alene, ID will be happy to discuss the appropriate material that is best for your needs and budget, in order for you to make an informed decision when it comes to your dental crown procedure.
Call 208-762-8750 to schedule your free consultation today!
Dental crowns are an effective treatment for restoring damaged teeth and improving your overall oral health. With proper care and regular check-ups, you can ensure your dental crown replacement will last for many years to come.