One of the most common ways that dentists repair teeth that are badly decayed or damaged is with dental crowns. These restorations are custom made to completely cover the surface of a tooth, right down to the gum line. Dental crowns can be made from a variety of different materials, and are extremely strong and durable, often lasting for many, many years. Although these restorations present many advantages for dental patients from throughout the Austin, Texas area, there are a few disadvantages of dental crowns. In this article, we’ll explore both the benefits of crowns and the downsides.
Advantages of Dental Crowns
Dentists typically use crowns to restore a tooth that might otherwise need to be extracted. These custom-made restorations can be used to resolve a variety of problems, including the following:
- A badly decayed tooth – Sometimes a tooth is so severely decayed that it can’t be repaired by a simple filling. In these instances, after the decay is removed, a crown can be affixed to support the existing natural tooth.
- A tooth that has undergone a root canal – A root canal is needed when the pulp of a tooth has become decayed and infected. After the procedure is complete, the dentist may choose to cover the affected tooth to prevent any further damage from occurring.
- A worn tooth – If a particular tooth has become worn down for whatever reason, a crown is an excellent choice to prevent the tooth from further wear.
- A cracked or broken tooth – A crown can provide stability to a tooth that has been either cracked or broken.
- An unattractive tooth – A crown can be used to cover the surface of a tooth for aesthetic purposes.
- One or more missing teeth – Missing teeth can be replaced by dental implants and/or a dental bridge. Crowns play a role in both. A dental implant consists of a metal rod that is inserted into the patient’s jawbone. After a period of time, the implant fuses to the bone to create what is essentially an artificial tooth root. After that, a crown is affixed to the top of the implant. Crowns are also used in dental bridges to replace missing teeth.
Crowns resolve many different kinds of dental issues. But that is not the only benefit they offer to dental patients. Crowns are also extremely strong and durable, usually lasting at least 10 to 15 years before they need to be replaced. If the crown is cared for properly, it could last much longer. The process involved in getting a new crown typically requires just two visits to the dentist’s office. But modern dental technology also provides patients with the option of getting a “same-day crown,” which requires only one visit to the dentist. Crowns are also a very common service provided by the vast majority of dentists throughout this country and around the world, so it’s typically very easy to find a dentist who is experienced in fitting patients with crowns.
Disadvantages of Dental Crowns
For all of the advantages they provide, there are some disadvantages that come along with crowns. What follows is a list of the downsides that may occur with these restorations:
- Getting a crown requires that the dentist file down the patient’s existing tooth to accommodate the restoration. No matter what the reason may be for getting a crown in the first place, the dentist will need to reduce the surface of the natural tooth to allow for the thickness of the crown. Once a tooth is filed down, there’s no going back – that procedure is irreversible.
- Patients may experience some discomfort after getting a new crown. It’s not uncommon for people to experience sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks for a period of time after getting a new crown. This problem is easily resolved by simply using a sensitivity toothpaste for a period of time. In some cases, the patient may experience pain when biting down, which is typically an indication that the crown is sitting too high in relation to other teeth. Fortunately, a dentist can usually resolve this issue so that the patient feels no discomfort.
- A crown may become damaged. Although most of these restorations are extremely strong and durable, they’re not indestructible. In fact, crowns (particularly those made of porcelain or composite resin) can become chipped or damaged in some way. If the damage is minor, a dentist may be able to repair the crown without removing it. But if a crown has incurred significant damage, it will probably have to be replaced.
- A crown may become loose, allowing bacteria to collect under the surface and causing decay to form. Although it doesn’t happen often, the dental cement that secures a crown to the tooth below may wear away, causing the restoration to become loose. Even more unlikely – but still possible – is a crown that actually falls off. Fortunately, both of these problems can be resolved by a trip to the dentist.
- Crowns can be expensive. Because of the amount of work involved in fitting a patient with a crown – including not only preparation of the patient’s natural tooth, but also creation of the restoration itself – crowns typically cost between $800 and $1,500 each. Most insurance policies will pay for at least a portion of the cost, but patients will still need to pay some amount of money out-of-pocket for a new crown.
Although there are some disadvantages of dental crowns, most dentists and patients alike would agree that the benefits far outweigh the downsides. There are good reasons why so many dentists provide crown services to their patients, and why crowns have been commonplace in dentistry for so long – they are effective, reliable restorations that effectively restore damaged teeth and/or replace missing teeth. Whether you need a crown to repair a single tooth, or an appliance made from crowns to replace one or more missing teeth, chances are you’ll soon realize the value of these tried-and-true dental restorations. To find out more about dental crowns, contact your Austin, Texas dentist today and schedule an appointment.