Busting the Myths About Dental Crowns
We are fortunate to live in an era rife with technological advancement—one that is rapidly evolving at an almost dizzying rate. As a result, the field of dentistry has evolved as well—far surpassing what innovators of the industry could have ever imagined even just half a century ago.
Here are 10 things you didn’t know about getting crowns.
1. There are lots of options.
In 200 A.D. gold was the material of choice for dental restorations. In the late 1800s Charles Land, the inventor of dental crowns, chose ceramic when fabricating his creations. Today there is a whole selection of materials to combine and choose from when getting crowns. Crowns can be made entirely of one material or layered to get the combined benefits of two materials.
Porcelain crowns, for example, can either be made entirely from porcelain or combine an outer layer of porcelain with a metal base. This mixed-materials option is known as porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM). The base of PFM crowns is always a metal alloy. Metal alloys are a mixture of precious, semi-precious, or non-precious metals depending on your preference and budget.
Metal alloys are also used as the sole material for crowns. An example of this would be a gold alloy crown. Gold on its own is much too soft to be effective, but it is very biocompatible and is not damaging to surrounding teeth. For this reason, gold is always mixed with a small percentage of other metals to make it strong enough to retain its shape and structure.
Zirconia, a silicate, is another option when getting crowns. Naturally white in color, translucent, and very durable, this material gained popularity for crown fabrication in the 1990s. As in-office crown fabrication technology has become more widely available, so too have zirconia-based crowns.
2. Crowns can be used for cosmetic enhancement.
In addition to being used in restorative dental treatments, crowns can also be used for cosmetic dental enhancements. They can improve the appearance of a misshapen or discolored tooth when other treatment options are unavailable. Teeth that have been severely ground down can cause a face to “collapse,” in addition to causing malocclusion and discomfort. Restoring the height of these teeth with crowns can return structure to the face and give the appearance of a facelift.
3. Saving one tooth can help to save them all.
Crowns aren’t just a tooth replacement; another reason for getting crowns is for tooth preservation. Crowns are used to maintain and protect the health of a natural tooth that has been severely compromised by decay or damage. By preserving the overall health of a tooth, even if it’s just the root of a tooth, we are able to preserve the health of your mouth overall.
Teeth are part of an overall system keeping your entire oral health in working order. Each part of the system relies on the other parts to do their job. What we see when we open our mouths is just a part of the overall structure. Below the gumline are the roots of your teeth, and they are working hard to keep your smile healthy. The roots stimulate the jawbone, maintaining its density and strength to support all of your teeth and gum tissue.
4. Gold crowns aren’t just for movie villains.
Turns out that all the way back in 200 A.D., the Etruscans were onto something when they started using gold to protect their failing teeth.
For centuries, gold has been the most commonly used material for royal crowns and dental crowns alike. A dental crown made up of gold alloy only needs to be a thin layer to do its job of protecting the tooth below it effectively. This means less of the natural tooth needs to be removed for the gold alloy crown to be placed compared to other, thicker materials.
5. They’re incredibly versatile.
Dental crowns are a versatile restoration making them a solution for many different dental ailments. Most commonly they are used to protect a tooth that has been compromised by a large cavity or is severely cracked. They can also be used aesthetically to cover severe discoloration or a misshapen tooth. You will also find crowns are the final step of both dental implant and root canal procedures. They can even be used as an abutment on both natural teeth and implants to anchor a dental bridge.
6. Dental implants go hand in hand with crowns.
Getting dental implants and getting crowns go hand in hand. After the post is placed in the jaw where the root of the tooth once resided, and the abutment is placed onto the post, the dental implant is ready for the final step: the dental crown. Crowns are used to cover the metal post that has been surgically placed. Together they create a strong, natural-looking replacement. This sturdy, long-lasting restoration procedure preserves not just the beauty of your smile but the health of your entire mouth.
7. Your dentist can make your dental crown in the office.
You no longer need to make several appointments and wait weeks until you can show off your beautiful new smile.
Thanks to the CEREC system, Dr. Sexton can now fabricate and place crowns for you on the same day. Using an intraoral wand he’ll take an exact digital impression of your teeth and bite. He can then send these measurements off to the CEREC system to have a virtually perfect-fitting, natural-looking crown fabricated for you.
8. Your natural tooth will need some reshaping.
Before getting crowns, your tooth will need to be reshaped. After your tooth is reshaped, that’s the time the crown is placed over the top of it. This is often the first appointment of the two required when receiving a dental crown. That is unless you’re getting a same day crown placed courtesy of the CEREC system. In that case, the whole procedure is done from start to finish during one appointment in the office.
Depending on the health of your tooth, Dr. Sexton will need to reshape your tooth in one of two ways. The first is to remove some of your natural tooth to make room for the new crown to be comfortably placed on top. The second is to build the tooth up enough, usually with a filling, to securely support your dental crown.
9. You care for them just like your natural teeth.
The great news is that you care for your new teeth just as you do your natural teeth. If you’re already in the habit of brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, you don’t need to change your existing routine.
For some, this might be bad news—your new teeth aren’t indestructible. You still need to clean them well, brushing twice a day and flossing once a day to prevent plaque build-up. Real tooth or not, plaque build-up can still lead to gum irritation and, eventually, gum disease.
It’s also still important to never use your teeth as tools to open bottles, packaging, or any other “creative” uses you can think of. Your new dental crowns are strong, but like natural teeth, they are susceptible to cracking and chipping when abused.
10. Creating natural-looking dental crowns is an art form.
Creating a natural-looking dental crown that is the exact size and shape for a patient’s mouth truly is an art form. It is a matter of carefully selecting the right materials with the correct shades, while also accounting for the translucency of the chosen material, or in some cases lack of it.
These materials must then be sculpted into the correct shape and size not just for aesthetics but also for a patient’s day-to-day comfort. An ill-fitting prosthetic can cause pain and discomfort for its wearer. It is not uncommon to make small adjustments to the shape of a dental crown after placing it to guarantee that virtually perfect fit.
Patient’s will often gravitate towards the whitest of whites when selecting a shade for their new dental crowns. However, what they don’t realize is that teeth are not opaque or perfectly white. To mimic a true, naturally white smile, Dr. Sexton will take into account the translucency of your own teeth and their shades of white.