If you are considering getting dental crowns, it’s important to know what they are. Whether about the cost involved or the process itself, a comprehensive understanding of these things will help you decide what’s best for your oral health.
What Is a Dental Crown?
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap placed over a damaged or decayed tooth to restore its shape and size and improve its appearance. Once placed, a crown covers the entire tooth above the gum line. Dental crowns boost oral health, improve speech and chewing, and offer an aesthetic appeal when you smile or talk.
Note that a traditional crown differs from a same-day crown, made using CAD/CAM technology. This relatively new approach uses computer-aided design (CAD) software and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) technology to create a crown in just one dental visit. Same-day crowns eliminate the need for multiple appointments and temporary crowns, making them a more convenient option for patients.
What Are the Different Types of Dental Crowns?
When considering the right type of crown suitable for you, it’s crucial to consider their aesthetics, durability, and associated dental crown cost.
- Ceramic Crowns: These crowns are made of a porcelain-based material. They blend in with the color of your natural teeth, offering a promising aesthetic appeal. However, ceramic crowns are not as strong as other types and may wear down over time, requiring proper care and regular dental visits for maintenance. With these crowns, the material is typically more expensive than other types. The cost typically ranges from $800 to $3,000 per tooth.
- Porcelain Fused to Metal Crowns: These crowns provide a stronger bond than regular porcelain because they are connected to a metal structure. This makes them a great choice for front or back teeth. The main drawback is that the underlying metal may become visible over time. Due to the need for greater skill and extra materials, the cost of metal crowns usually falls between $800 and $1400 per tooth.
- Gold Crowns: As the name suggests, these crowns are made of gold or metal alloys. They are known for their durability and high resistance to wear and tear, requiring fewer dental visits than ceramic crowns. However, their color is noticeably different from natural teeth, making them less aesthetically pleasing. These crowns, composed of gold or a mix of gold and other metals, can cost anywhere between $600 and $2,500 per tooth.
- Stainless Steel Crowns: These crowns are typically used as temporary measures on permanent or children’s teeth because they require fewer dental visits to place or replace. They are a less expensive option, typically utilized until a permanent crown can be fitted. The dental crown cost for this option ranges from $300 to $500 per tooth.
What Does the Crown Process Involve?
The dental crown procedure is a multi-step process involving professional evaluation, possible root canal treatment, making an impression of the tooth, placement of a temporary crown, and finally, the permanent crown fitting.
Here’s a more detailed outline of the tooth crown procedure:
Step 1: Professional Evaluation
A dental professional would first evaluate the condition of your tooth to determine if a crown is the appropriate solution. This assessment will help them identify a decayed, discolored, or weak tooth needing dental crowns.
Step 2: Root Canal Treatment (If Necessary)
If the tooth is severely decayed or infected, a root canal treatment may be needed before the crown is placed. During root canal therapy, the dental professional removes the diseased pulp and filling material inside the tooth.
Step 3: Tooth Preparation
After determining that a crown is needed and completing any necessary root canal treatment, the tooth will be prepared for the crown. This involves removing some part of the natural tooth structure to make room for the crown. In some cases, if there isn’t enough tooth structure remaining, a core buildup may be needed before the crown can be placed.
Step 4: Making an Impression
Once a tooth is prepared, an impression of it is taken. This mold helps create a tooth-shaped cap that perfectly fits over your prepared tooth and matches your neighboring teeth’ size, shape, and color.
Step 5: Placement of Temporary Crown
While the dental lab prepares the permanent crown, a temporary crown is placed over the tooth using a temporary cement. It looks like natural teeth, providing an aesthetic appeal and functioning until the permanent crown is ready.
Step 6: Placement of Permanent Crown
Once your permanent crown is ready, the temporary one is removed. The new crown, made from various materials like porcelain crowns, ceramic crowns, or more traditional crowns such as metal crowns or gold crowns, is then cemented into place with dental cement.
Why Would You Need Them?
Having a dental crown is not just about enhancing the beauty of your smile. It also plays a key role in maintaining your oral health. But what is the importance of getting a dental crown, and how does it contribute to a healthier mouth? Let’s break it down.
- Strengthens a Weak or Decayed Tooth: A professional may recommend a dental crown to protect a weak or decayed tooth from further damage or after a root canal treatment. Crowns shield the entire tooth, preserving its natural structure and protecting it from potential extractions.
- Enhances Aesthetic Appeal: If you have a chipped, discolored, or misshapen tooth, a ceramic or porcelain crown might be the right choice. These types of crowns resemble natural teeth, contributing to an aesthetically pleasing smile.
- Supports Dental Bridges: Dental crowns help anchor dental bridges firmly in place, ensuring that adjacent teeth do not shift out of alignment, which could lead to bite issues.
- Restores Damaged Teeth: Crowns are also used to restore teeth that are severely worn down or broken. They provide a new outer surface that is smooth and strong.
When Is It Necessary to Opt for a Dental Crown?
Dental crowns are life-savers when it comes to oral health. They can be beneficial in several situations, such as health-related or cosmetic enhancement. Knowing when you might need a dental crown can help you make informed decisions about your dental care.
Here are the common reasons you would need dental crowns.
- Decayed Tooth: A filling material might not be enough if tooth decay penetrates deep into the tooth. Dental crowns, made from a variety of materials, protect and strengthen your teeth, preventing further damage.
- Large Fillings: Large dental fillings can weaken the remaining tooth structure, making the tooth prone to breakage. A dental crown can cap the entire tooth and provide extra support.
- After Tooth Extractions or Root Canal Treatment: Often, teeth can become more fragile after a tooth extraction or root canal therapy. To keep the tooth functioning as neighbors to adjacent teeth, a dental crown can guard against further damage.
- Cracked, Chipped, or Broken Teeth: Dental crowns can also act as a protective cover over the prepared tooth, preventing further cracking or damage and maintaining the strength of the weakened tooth.
- Cosmetic Modifications: Dental crowns can offer a better aesthetic appeal for misshapen or discolored teeth. They come in several types, like ceramic crowns, porcelain crowns, and resin crowns, all specially designed to resemble natural teeth.
- Bridge Support: If you’re missing a tooth and getting a bridge, crowns are used on the teeth adjacent to the gap to support the replacement tooth.
Risks of Dental Crowns
While dental crowns are generally safe and effective, they do come with certain risks and potential complications. Here are some of them:
- Gum Irritation/Recession: Dental crowns can potentially irritate the neighboring gum tissue, leading to inflammation and gum recession.
- Discomfort/Sensitivity: Newly crowned teeth may be sensitive immediately after the procedure as the anesthesia wears off.
- Chipped Crown: Dental crowns can chip or break, especially porcelain ones. This usually occurs due to biting down on hard foods or due to an accident.
- Loose Crown: Sometimes, a crown may become loose, exposing the natural tooth underneath, which may lead to discomfort or infection.
- Infection: In rare cases, an infection can occur under a dental crown if bacteria get trapped beneath it.
- Tooth Decay: While the crown itself cannot decay, the underlying tooth can, especially if it becomes loose or broken.
- Bite Problems: If a crown is not properly fitted, it can lead to bite problems.
- Nerve Trauma: There may be nerve damage if a tooth is filed down too much in preparation for the crown.
- Allergic Reactions: Some people may be allergic to the metals used in certain crowns.
- Porcelain Crown Damage: For porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns, the porcelain coating may chip off over time, exposing the metal underneath.
Does Dental Insurance Cover Dental Crowns?
Some insurance companies cover dental crown procedures, but the coverage varies depending on the specifics of the insurance plan. Most tooth crowns are covered if necessary for maintaining good dental health or if they are part of major restorative dental care. However, not all crowns may be covered, particularly if they are considered more cosmetic than necessary for oral health.
Also, many dental insurance plans include a deductible, which is an amount you pay before your insurance starts to effect. In addition, there might be a replacement clause stating that plans will cover crown replacement after a certain number of years, typically five.
Restore, Protect, and Improve the Appearance of Your Teeth With Dental Crowns
Dental crowns offer an excellent way to restore your tooth’s health and aesthetic appeal, greatly contributing to your overall well-being. However, a tooth crown isn’t always necessary unless recommended by a dental professional.
A dental crown may suit your needs if you’re struggling with tooth decay, weakened teeth, or other dental issues. Contact us today to schedule an appointment so we can evaluate your dental care options. Our dental office has an experienced team of dentists and modern dental technology to help us provide positive results.