A tooth crown is a dental restoration placed over an existing tooth that has decayed, worn down, or cracked and cannot be corrected with a tooth filling. We will also encounter an old filling that has expanded and contracted over time, separating from the tooth and weakening it. This filling has now created a small opening between itself and the tooth, inviting decay. If left unattended, it will cause a crack in the tooth and perhaps more serious problems and discomfort.
Crowns used to be made of various materials, including metal (usually a gold alloy) and porcelain fused to metal, which after a few years acquires an unsightly dark gray line at the gum line. Today, we have the technology to create your crown entirely from porcelain.
Benefits of All-Porcelain Crowns
- All-porcelain crowns are translucent, like your natural teeth, so they have the same pearly look, blending in perfectly with your smile.
- An all-porcelain crown is custom made to fit over your natural tooth. The crown is bonded to your tooth, covering it completely, restoring its strength and function.
- Porcelain tooth crowns repair and strengthen damaged teeth, and can also be used to give a new surface to discolored or misshapen teeth.
- Porcelain crowns help stop the spread of decay and correct any structural damage.
- A strategically placed crown can also affect the alignment of your jaw and bite. This prevents other teeth from shifting, and allows for a better share of the work among all the teeth when biting and chewing.
- Because of the inherent smoothness of porcelain and strength of the bonding process, all-porcelain crowns increase not only the strength but also the life span of the tooth.
Porcelain crown placement generally requires at least two visits. Your tooth is prepared and shaped, and then impressions are taken and sent to a dental lab. The lab will make a model from your impressions, and then craft a cap to fit over your tooth. This crown is then bonded to your tooth, covering it completely, and a high intensity light hardens the bonding.
Other than a little sensitivity for a few days, the procedure itself is relatively pain-free.
How Long Can My Porcelain Crown Last?
Dental crowns are made of a variety of materials. The lifespan of a crown is much less related to its material than your general oral habits. A crown can last a few decades or it may last only a few years based on usage and care. For example, if you tend to bite on your nails, pen caps, or other hard objects using a crowned tooth, that restoration endures extra stress for which it was not made. The wear and tear on the crown may occur faster than it would if you did not continue this habit. A crown may also be affected by what you eat and drink, with some items having the potential to break down the bond between your crown and the underlying tooth more quickly. Alcohol is one example. If you take good care of your teeth by brushing morning and night, flossing daily, and seeing your dentist, you can expect your porcelain crown to last many years.
Does Getting a Dental Crown Hurt?
No. We'll do what we can to make sure you're comfortable during your crown treatment. During your first visit, when we prepare the underlying tooth for the crown, you'll receive a local anesthetic before we get started. This is the same technique that your dentist uses to repair a cavity or to perform a root canal. The local anesthetic used in dentistry is very powerful and effective on nearly everyone. Once you receive your anesthetic, the area of focus will become numb and you should feel no pain at all.
Can My Porcelain Crown Become Discolored?
Dental porcelain is manufactured for strength, long-term durability, and a lifelike appearance. One of the reasons patients like this treatment option is that porcelain looks more like natural teeth than nearly every other material. This type of porcelain is shiny and bright and usually stays that way for years. However, yes, porcelain dental crowns can eventually become yellow or discolored. Discoloration is more likely to occur along the margins of the crown but may spread across the surface if the protective glaze is damaged. The glaze may be compromised if you consume a lot of soda, alcohol, tomatoes, citrus fruits, or vinegar. Smoking can also damage the glaze and cause stains to develop.
Does Teeth Whitening Work on a Crown?
Interestingly, although stains may occur on a porcelain restoration due to damage to the protective glaze that covers the surface, this glaze prevents the action of whitening agents from lifting stains. Porcelain is slightly porous but not as much as your natural teeth. Over-the-counter whitening treatment will not work on this material. However, if you develop stains, all hope is not lost. Contact our office for assistance. Your dentist may be able to perform a cleaning and buffing using a special paste or instrument that sloughs off stains.
Dental Hygiene After Crowns
All-porcelain crowns are strong and durable and may exceed the biting capacity of natural teeth. But you need to give them the same daily care that you give your normal, healthy teeth.
It is important to choose an experienced cosmetic dentist when contemplating any teeth bonding or capping procedures. To learn more about Dr. Warr's experience providing custom all-porcelain crowns, please call 801-355-5385 today.
Your initial consultation with Warr Dental is free! We serve patients throughout the Salt Lake City area, including Draper, West Valley City and other nearby communities.