No matter how well we treat our teeth, the nature of our modern diet and certain hereditary predispositions makes is so that almost everyone ends up getting at least one cavity at some point in their life, and a large percentage of us will also end up getting at least one dental crown as well. But, what is a dental crown, anyway? Well, read on to find out more..
Basically, in a nut shell, dental crowns are used to repair teeth that have been damaged either through decay or injury, and are also used to support dental bridges and restore dental implants (we'll cover these two dental procedures in upcoming posts). Dental crowns, as their name implies, sit atop the damaged tooth, and are thus shaped like an actual tooth. They are made of metal and ceramic, the type of material used usually being determined by the type of damage the tooth underneath has indeed suffered, metal crowns being less popular because they do not resemble the color of natural teeth in any way, and are thus much more visibly obvious.
However, metal crowns (which can be made with many types of metal, gold and nickel to list just a few), are also much stronger and more durable than their ceramic counterparts, and thus are often considered the best choice for that reason, depending on the severity of the damage to the tooth it is supposed to rectify. Ceramic crowns, on the other hand, are usually made from porcelain or synthetic resins, and often preferred by patients because they more so resemble human teeth, being more or less the same color and even having a similar way in which light reflects off of them as well.
So, you might be wondering what undergoing a dental crown procedure entails (especially if you stumbled on this article because you are about to have one, I suppose!). Well, dental crown procedures are basically comprised of two steps, the first being the removal of thin layers of enamel from the tooth to be crowned, as well as some enamel layers from adjacent teeth. This is done in order to make sure that the tightest merging possible is obtained between the crown and the natural tooth underneath. An impression mold of the to-be-crowned tooth is then taken, and the crown itself is then created in a dental laboratory, which usually takes about two weeks or so. In the meantime your dentist will give you what is called a temporary crown that will be placed on the tooth until the permanent one as been created. Then you will have to go back to the dentist to have the temporary crown removed and the permanent one cemented firmly in its place.
The lifetime of a dental crown can be as long as 15 years if proper oral hygiene is practiced by the individual in possession of the crown. After this amount of time, crowns usually need to be replaced, but not always. Of course, on the other hand, sometimes crowns need to be replaced much earlier due to wear, further dental decay, or having been improperly affixed by the dentist in the first place.
So, there you have it, the low-down on dental crowns. Like we said earlier, having to undergo dental procedures like crowns can often, but not always, be avoided if one eats right and practices good oral hygiene. However, if you have suffered a broken or damaged tooth, you can definitely benefit from this modern, relatively painless dental procedure.