What Are Dental Crowns and How They Improve Your Smile

What Are Dental Crowns and How They Improve Your Smile By Dr. Jon ( Junyi ) Ho | August 31, 2023

Having a set of aesthetically pleasing teeth is not just about flashing a captivating smile; it’s also about maintaining the natural function of your teeth. But what if a tooth gets damaged or broken? This can be quite the predicament, can’t it?

In these situations, dental crowns serve as a lifesaver. They’re a reliable way to protect your natural tooth structure and can also enhance your teeth’ overall appearance.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the following:

  • what are dental crowns
  • the types of dental crown materials
  • the dental crown structure
  • the functions of dental crowns
  • how dental crowns improve your smile
  • dental crown lifespan

 

So, if you’re considering getting a crown or simply want to know more about them, stick around as we unpack all the details.

Summary of the Content:

  • Dental crowns are tooth-shaped caps. They are placed over damaged teeth to restore their appearance and function.

  • They come in various materials like metal, porcelain-fused-to-metal, resin, porcelain, and zirconia, each offering unique advantages.

  • Crowns protect weak teeth, restore broken teeth, and improve tooth shape and colour.

  • The lifespan of crowns depends on factors like material, oral hygiene, and personal habits.

  • Dental crowns differ from veneers, implants, bridges, and fillings in terms of appearance, cost, lifespan, and procedure.

  • Prompt consultation and treatment can prevent dental concerns from worsening, leading to improved oral health and confidence.

What Are Dental Crowns?

Dental crowns are essentially “caps” that a dentist places over a tooth. This cap fully encases the visible portion of the tooth that lies above the gum line. The dental crown is designed to mimic the shape, colour, and strength of your natural teeth, allowing it to blend seamlessly with your other teeth.

Dental crowns can address several dental conditions, including:

  • Providing a cover for a tooth with a large filling where there are not many tooth structure left

  • Restoring a severely worn down or broken tooth

  • Protecting a weak tooth from fracturing

  • Covering a dental implant

  • Holding a dental bridge in place

  • Improving the appearance of misshapen or severely discoloured teeth

  • Covering a tooth that’s had root canal treatment

The Materials Used in Dental Crowns

female dentists working on young male patient. selective focus. close up view.

Before we discuss the functions of dental crowns, let’s take a look at the materials commonly used.

  • Metal Crowns:
    These crowns are made from base metal alloys that may include gold, palladium, nickel or chromium. They’re known for their strength and resilience, making them a great choice for out-of-sight molars. One drawback is their metallic colour, which isn’t a favourite for those seeking a natural appearance.

  • Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Crowns:
    These can match the colour of your adjacent teeth, unlike metal crowns. However, the metal underneath the porcelain can sometimes be seen as a dark line along the gums. 

  • Resin Crowns:
    They’re less costly than other types of crowns. However, resin crowns wear down over time and are more prone to fractures compared to porcelain-fused-to-metal or metal crowns. They are usually used as temporary crowns. 

  • All-Ceramic or All-Porcelain Crowns:
    These crowns provide the closest match to the colour of natural teeth than any other crown type. They may also be more suitable for people who develop allergic reactions to metal. However, they’re not as strong as metal crowns and can wear down opposing teeth a bit more than metal or resin crowns.

  • Zirconia Crowns:
    Zirconia is fast becoming one of the most chosen materials for dental crowns. Its many advantages include a very strong structure and natural appearance. However, the toughness of the material has raised some concerns about abrading opposite teeth. 

Each material has its advantages and potential drawbacks, so the choice depends on the needs and circumstances of the patient.

The Functions of Dental Crowns

Having understood what dental crowns are and the materials used, let’s explore the various functions of dental crowns. You’ll find that these restorative devices play multiple roles in maintaining oral health beyond just covering a tooth. Here are some of the common reasons dentists recommend dental crowns:

  • Protection:
    Dental crowns are designed to protect a weak tooth, especially after root canal therapy or the placement of a large filling. They serve as a strong cover, shielding the tooth from further damage.

  • Restoration:
    A broken or severely worn down or fractured tooth can be restored using a dental crown. This improves not only the tooth’s function but also its appearance, contributing to a healthier smile.

  • Support:
    When a large filling needs support, a dental crown comes into play. By encasing the tooth, the crown provides the needed support to the remaining tooth structure.

  • Dental Bridge Support and Implant Attachment:
    Crowns are crucial in implant and dental bridge treatment. They hold the bridge in place or cover the artificial root, providing a stable chewing surface.

  • Cosmetic Enhancement:
    For discoloured teeth or misshapen teeth, dental crowns provide a makeover. They can match the natural colour and shape of your teeth, enhancing the overall look of your smile.

How Dental Crowns Improve Your Smile

Now that we’ve covered the functions of dental crowns, let’s discuss how these restorations can improve your smile. Let’s first discuss the dental crown procedure. Here’s what happens:

  1. Initial Visit:
    On your first visit to the dentist, they will assess your dental health to determine if a dental crown is the right treatment for your situation. The dentist will then create a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your needs.

  2. Tooth Preparation:
    Your dentist will prepare the tooth for the dental crown. This involves reshaping the tooth by trimming the chewing surface and sides of the tooth to make room for the crown.

  3. Dental Impression:
    Once the tooth is prepared, your dentist will take an impression or digital scan of the tooth. This can be done through traditional methods or digital impressions. The impression will serve as a model for the dental crown.

  4. Temporary Crown:
    While waiting for the dental crown to be made, your dentist will fit a temporary crown over your prepared tooth. This is secured with temporary cement to protect the tooth.

  5. Dental Crown Fabrication:
    Using the dental impression, the dental laboratory will create a model of your tooth and design your custom dental crown. The crown is designed to fit your tooth accurately and match your natural tooth colour.

  6. Crown Placement:
    During your follow-up visit, your dentist will remove the temporary crown. They will then replace it with the final dental crown. The dentist will check the fit and your bite to make sure you’re comfortable. They will then cement the crown into place using dental cement.

  7. Aftercare:
    Once the dental crown is in place, your dentist will provide you with instructions on how to care for it. With the right care, dental crowns can last a long time and contribute to healthy teeth and a bright smile.

A radiant, healthy smile is about more than just appearance; it’s a sign of good oral health. Here are some ways dental crowns can help:

  • Shape Improvement:
    Dental crowns can be designed to restore the tooth to its previous shape. This way, the appearance of the tooth is improved, and the patient’s bite is restored. This is particularly beneficial for teeth that are chipped, broken, or worn down.

  • Colour Enhancement:
    Dental crowns can cover discoloured teeth, offering a whiter, brighter smile. They can be made to match the colour of your natural teeth for a uniform look.

  • Bite Improvement:
    A bad bite can lead to a host of dental problems. Dental crowns can restore your tooth in order to improve your bite. This improves your oral health and contributes to a natural smile.

  • Customisation:
    Each dental crown is a custom crown designed to blend seamlessly with your natural teeth. With a custom crown, your dental procedure is tailored to your unique needs so that your tooth restoration improves your oral function and enhances the aesthetic appearance of your smile.

  • Natural Colour Match:
    Dental crowns are created to match the colour of your natural teeth. This results in a beautiful smile that looks natural and vibrant. The colour-matching process is done so that your crown will fit in seamlessly with the rest of your teeth, enhancing your overall aesthetic appearance.

The Longevity of Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are a valuable investment in your oral health, and the longevity of these crowns is a crucial aspect to consider. On average, dental crowns can last between five and fifteen years.

However, their lifespan is influenced by various factors, including the dental crown structure, risk of dental crown failure, and:

  • Oral Hygiene:
    Regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings can prolong the life of your dental crowns. Good dental care is key to preventing gum disease and tooth decay, which can affect the longevity of your crowns. 

  • Personal Habits:
    Habits such as biting fingernails, clenching or grinding your teeth, chewing ice, and using your teeth as tools can damage a dental crown. 

  • Material of the Crown:
    The durability of dental crowns also depends on the material used. For instance, metal crowns often last longer than resin or ceramic crowns.

  • Crown Placement:
    Crowns placed on the back teeth may wear out faster due to the pressure from chewing and biting. 

Remember, every dental crown treatment procedure is unique, and the longevity of your crowns may differ based on individual circumstances. Discussing your specific situation with your dentist is always recommended to understand how to extend the life of your crowns.

Dental Crowns vs. Other Dental Restorations

Now that we’ve discussed the ins and outs of dental crowns, let’s compare them to other common dental restorations. Each has its unique advantages and is used for different reasons. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Veneers:
    Unlike dental crowns that cover the entire crown of the tooth, veneers are thin shells covering only the front surface of the teeth. They are usually used for cosmetic reasons, such as improving the appearance of teeth that are discoloured, chipped, or slightly misaligned.

  • Implants:
    Dental implants replace the entire tooth from root to crown. They consist of an artificial tooth root implanted into the jawbone, onto which a dental crown is placed. Dental implant treatment provides a long-term restoration used in tooth loss cases.

  • Bridges:
    Dental bridges span the gap left by one or more missing teeth. They are anchored by dental crowns placed on the natural teeth or implants on either side of the gap. Bridges are a popular choice for patients who have lost a tooth and want to restore their natural smile.

  • Fillings:
    Dental fillings are used to restore teeth damaged by decay. They fill in the cavity left by the decay, helping to prevent further damage. Unlike dental crowns, fillings do not cover the entire tooth.

 

Restoration

Appearance

Cost

Lifespan

Procedure

Crowns

Natural, can be matched to the colour of your teeth

Varies depending on material

5-15 years

2-3 visits, a couple of weeks apart

Veneers

Natural, can be matched to the colour of your teeth

Depending on the material, may cost almost the same as crowns

7-15 years

2 visits

Implants

Closest replacement to natural teeth

Higher cost

Lifetime with proper care

Multiple visits over several months

Bridges

Natural, can be matched to the colour of your teeth

More affordable than implants

5-15 years

2-3 visits

Fillings

Can be matched to the colour of your teeth

Least expensive option

Varies depending on material and care

Usually 1 visit

Final Thoughts

We’ve covered much ground today, from understanding what dental crowns are to exploring the dental crown materials used in their creation, examining their functions, and seeing how they stack up against other dental restorations. It’s clear that dental crowns play a vital role in maintaining dental health, improving appearance, and restoring function.

At Darch Dental Centre, our team of dental professionals is dedicated to providing you with quality dental crown services that cater to your unique needs. We believe in crafting beautiful, natural-looking smiles that boost your confidence and improve your oral health.

Whether you’re looking to protect a weak tooth, restore a damaged one, or just want to enhance your smile, dental crowns could be the solution you’re looking for. Don’t wait for your dental concerns to worsen. Book a consultation appointment with us today, either by giving us a call or through our website. Let us help you achieve the healthy, radiant smile you deserve.

Dr. Jon ( Junyi ) Ho

Dr. Jon is a Perth-based dentist who graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Science in 2005 from the University of Western Australia. He has worked at a range of dental practices, including being a partner and principal dentist for a group of five dental surgeries in Sydney. Dr. Jon has been practising for over a decade in the northern suburbs of Perth. He provides treatment for patients in Darch, Madeley, Landsdale, Kingsway, Kingsley, Marangaroo, Alexander Heights, Wangara, Ellenbrook, and others.

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