Dental Crowns: Types, Procedure Overview & Costs

Excerpt: The crown of a tooth is the top of the tooth that is covered by enamel. This is a very important part of the tooth since almost all of the chewing happens on the crown.

Dental Crown Fast Facts

  • Golden dental crowns have been used for about 4,000 years!
  • Porcelain wasn’t used as a material until 1903.
  • Metal wasn’t used as a base until the 1990’s.

What are dental crowns?

The crown of a tooth is the top of the tooth that is covered by enamel. This is a very important part of the tooth since almost all of the chewing happens on the crown. If the crown of the tooth is damaged by either breaking, tooth decay, or other ailments, then it needs to be fixed right away or else it can be very painful to the one experiencing it.

Dental crowns can be tooth-colored, gold, silver, or metal caps. These caps will fit over the affected tooth and different materials may be used depending on the tooth they are fitting the cap on. 

The most common purpose for a crown is to protect a root canal or other dental appliances that may have been used. 

Dental crowns are custom-made by technicians to blend in with the surrounding teeth as best as possible. 

Here are the factors used to determine the type of material the crown:

  • Tooth location & function
  • Gum tissue and gum line location
  • Visibility of the tooth
  • The coloration of the surrounding teeth
  • Any possible bruxism (teeth grinding)

When do you need a dental crown?

  • Week teeth – Usually caused by significant decay.
  • Fractured teeth – Crowns are used to hold broken teeth together.
  • Excessively worn down teeth – When a tooth has been worn down due to grinding, decay, or dental erosion.
  • Larger-than-normal fillings – A large filling may compromise a tooth. Crowns will help to hold it together.
  • Excessive discoloration or staining – If a tooth has significant discoloration, a crown may be needed for cosmetic enhancements.

Crowns are also used to protect dental implants that are vulnerable, typically, they will be used to protect, root canals, dental bridges, and dental implants.

Root Canal treatment

Root canals are used for teeth that have significant amounts of infection or decay in the inner pulp of the tooth. 
 
  • Root canal procedure – During the procedure, an opening will be created on top of the tooth, the dentist will then carefully remove all of the pulp using specialized instruments. The end result of this procedure will leave an opening in the tooth.
  • Role of the dental crown – Since the root canal will always leave an opening, a cap will be needed to cover it. This is the reason the dental crown will be used afterwards.

Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are used when multiple teeth are missing, or significantly decayed. Bridges are at least 3 fake teeth held together by dental crowns.

  • Dental bridge procedure – Traditional bridges will be at least 1 fake tooth (pontic), held together with crowns between the abutment teeth. These are teeth that will be fitted onto the existing teeth, while the pontic closes the gap.
  • Role of the dental crown – The crown is used to cement the pontic(s) together while securing them to the abutment teeth.

Pros & Cons Of Dental Crowns

Pros

  • Natural looking
  • Enhances your smile
  • Fixes severely decayed teeth
  • Protect dental implants
  • Replace worn out fillings
  • Easy on your budget
  • Simple and painless
  • Variations for different situations
  • Can last up to 30 years
  • Very durable

Cons

  • Part of the tooth must be removed
  • May need replacement
  • Fracture is a possibility
  • Possible increase in tooth sensitivity

How many dental crowns are there?

There are 5 different types of dental crowns, they are different for a number of reasons, mainly concerning: cosmetic appearance, the function of the tooth, the position of the gums.

Porcelain-fused-to-metal-crowns

Easily the most common material for dental crowns as well as bridges, as the name suggests these appliances are a mixture of porcelain and metal. The crown is created by fusing the two materials together to create a very durable bond on a chemical level. These crowns in particular are excellent for your teeth as they are stronger than regular porcelain and very aesthetic. 

metal & gold Crowns

Metal crowns come in a variety of forms as well as colors. Since they are pure metal or gold, they are very strong and will not wear down your teeth. These crowns will typically consist of metal or gold, however, other metals are used, their major downside is the appearance of the crown. Metal and gold visibly stand out over teeth, so generally, these crowns are used for less visible teeth.

Cosmetic Crowns (ceramic)

Ceramic crowns are made entirely of porcelain. These crowns are typically used for the most visible teeth since they are more likely to match the appearance of your teeth. The front (anterior) teeth will most-likely have porcelain crowns. The front teeth are usually not used for chewing, so the crown will not have to be nearly as durable.

All-Resin Crowns

All-resin crowns do not cost as much as their metal and porcelain counterparts. They are cheaper, but significantly less durable, which makes them prone to shorter lifespans and fractures. Typically, they are used on baby teeth only due to their short-term nature, and lack of durability.

Stainless Steel Crowns (SSCs)

Generally, SSCs are used for preserving severely decayed or damaged baby (primary) teeth.

Recovery From a Dental Crown Procedure

You will want to stay away from foods that are overly hot or cold for a week or two afterwards. Your tooth may be overly sensitive after the procedure, so a sensitive toothpaste is recommended to be used. For 1-2 days after the procedure, you may want to stick to softer, easier-to-chew foods just in case.

If the symptoms last longer than a couple weeks, you should call your dentist.

Dental Crown Aftercare

For the most part, your life can consume as normal after the recovery process of the crown is complete. Crowns are relatively low maintenance, however, there are a few things you should pay attention to:
 
  • Avoid sticky chewy foods – Crowns are cemented in place, but they can come loose.
  • Avoid hard foods – Depending on the crown, it may be susceptible to breaking.
  • If you have a temporary crown, you should avoid using it to chew altogether.

Complications of dental crowns

Crowns are very safe in general for the patient, however, as with any procedure, there’s always a chance complications could arise, here are a few that might happen:
  • An allergic reaction
  • Sensitivity or discomfort
  • Poorly-fitted crown
  • Nerve issues

How much do crowns cost?

Dental crowns can vary pretty substantially in cost from a few hundred, to several thousand dollars. 1 porcelain-fused-to-metal crown at Smiles Dental Group is $825.44, the Alberta Dental Fee Guide lists that it should cost $861.59.

To find out a more specific estimate on the types of crowns that will work for you, please call Smiles Dental Group at (587) 409-2959.

Generally, dental crowns are covered by insurance, either totally or partially, but check with your provider first.

There is no “best material”, different materials are used for different situations. Your dentist will advise you on the best option.

Not really, just don’t eat too much hard, and or sticky food. If you do, try to chew on teeth that don’t have crowns.

You could potentially use a porcelain onlay, this only covers part of the tooth and is not as functional or as protective as a crown.

A local anesthetic will be used before your procedure, minimal pain and discomfort should be expected. You may be more sensitive afterward so stay from potentially hazardous foods.

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