By: Dr. Lahiru Chandraweera

September 09, 2023

Dental Crowns 101: Understanding the Procedure, Benefits, Costs, and More

A healthy smile is more than just a confidence booster – it’s a sign of good overall health. According to the Australian Dental Association, tooth decay affects 1 in 3 Australian adults over 15. This, along with issues like broken, chipped, or cracked teeth or large fillings, often leads individuals to consider dental crown treatment.

Dental crowns have become a popular choice for tooth restoration, but before you decide to go down this path, it’s crucial to understand the ins and outs of this dental solution. This blog post aims to provide you with all the information you need about dental crowns, from the procedure to the benefits, the cost, and more.

By the end of this post, you’ll have a clear understanding of what dental crowns are, the different types available, the procedures involved, and how to care for them. We’ll also discuss the benefits of dental crowns and make sure you’re well informed about potential risks and complications. So, let’s get started!

Hills Family Dental Centre

Summary of the Content

  • Dental crowns are custom-made covers for damaged teeth or dental implants, offering restoration, protection, and cosmetic modification.

  • Different types of dental crowns include metal, porcelain, porcelain-fused-to-metal, zirconia and composite crowns, each with unique advantages and considerations.

  • The dental crown procedure involves at least two visits: initial examination and tooth preparation, followed by the placement of the final dental crown.

  • The average cost of dental crowns is around $2,100, influenced by factors like material, procedure complexity, and dentist’s experience.

  • Dental crowns can last between 5 and 15 years with proper care, depending on the patient’s oral hygiene, diet, and personal habits.

  • Dental crowns offer benefits beyond aesthetics, including improved chewing and biting, protection for damaged teeth, and support for adjacent teeth.

  • Though rare, potential risks of dental crowns include sensitivity, loose crowns, and allergic reactions.

  • Alternatives to dental crowns include dental veneers, inlays and onlays, and dental bonding, with the choice influenced by oral health status, budget considerations, and aesthetic preference.

Dental Crowns: An Overview

Dental crowns, often referred to as “caps,” play a vital role in dental health. They are custom-made covers placed over a tooth or dental implant for various reasons. Here are some key roles of dental crowns:

  • Restoration:
    Dental crowns restore the shape, size, and strength of damaged or fractured teeth, allowing you to maintain a radiant smile. Whether it’s a tooth that’s been worn down by normal biting and chewing or one that’s been damaged by decay, a dental crown can bring it back to its original form.

  • Protection:
    If a tooth is weakened by decay or a large filling, a dental crown can provide the necessary protection to prevent further damage. The crown acts as a shield, covering the entire tooth surface and reducing the risk of infection.

  • Cosmetic Modification:
    Dental crowns can also improve the appearance of your teeth, whether it’s changing the shape or covering discoloured teeth. With various materials available, including porcelain crowns and zirconia crowns, you can choose a type of crown that closely matches your natural teeth.

  • Support for Dental Procedures:
    Dental crowns are often used in conjunction with other dental procedures. For example, a crown can be used to protect a tooth after root canal therapy. Crowns are also used as part of a dental implant.

Anyone with a damaged tooth, whether from decay, a large filling, or trauma, might need a dental crown. They are also a common type of restoration for patients who have large dental fillings or those who have had root canal therapy.

The process of dental crown placement usually involves two visits. During the first visit, the dentist prepares the tooth, takes a dental impression and places a temporary crown made of acrylic resin. The temporary crown protects the tooth while the final dental crown is being made in a dental laboratory.

The Different Types of Dental Crowns

Before discussing the dental crown procedure, let’s look at the different types of dental crowns available. The type of crown used can affect both the cost and benefits of dental crowns. Here are the main types:

  • Metal Crowns:
    These crowns are known for their durability and strength, making them a good choice for back teeth. However, their metallic colour makes them less aesthetically pleasing.

  • Porcelain Crowns:
    Also called all-ceramic crowns, these crowns are popular for their natural appearance. They match the colour of natural teeth, making them a great option for front teeth. However, they’re not as strong as metal crowns and may wear down over time.

  • Porcelain-fuse-to-Metal Crowns:
    These crowns are composed of porcelain fused to a metal base. It offers a natural appearance with the strength of metal, and it is usually stronger than porcelain crowns. However, they can wear down opposing teeth, and, in some cases, the metal underlying the crown’s porcelain can show through as a dark shadow along the gum line.

  • Zirconia Crowns:
    Zirconia crowns offer a balance between aesthetics and durability. They are made entirely of zirconia, a type of ceramic that is known for its natural appearance, superior strength, and resistance to wear. While zirconia crowns are strong, they can be abrasive to opposing teeth.

  • Composite resin crowns:
    A composite crown is a dental restoration made from composite resin. It can be matched to the natural colour of neighbouring teeth, creating a seamless appearance. While they offer aesthetic benefits, especially for front teeth, they may not be as durable as crowns made from other materials like porcelain or metal, making them a better option for temporary restorations.

The choice of crown material depends on the location of the tooth, the patient’s preferences, and the dentist’s recommendation.

For example, porcelain crowns offer a translucent appearance that closely resembles natural tooth structure, making them a popular choice for front teeth.

On the other hand, metal crowns, including those made from a gold alloy, offer exceptional strength, making them suitable for restoring back teeth that need to withstand the forces of chewing.

The Dental Crown Procedure: What to Expect

The dental crown procedure is a multi-step process that requires at least two visits to the dentist. Here’s a step-by-step guide to what you can expect:

  • Initial Visit and Examination:
    The dentist will first examine your teeth and gum tissues to assess their health. This may involve X-rays to check the roots of the tooth and surrounding bone.

  • Tooth Preparation:
    To prepare the tooth for crown placement, the dentist will remove decayed parts, if there are any, and reshape the tooth to make room for the crown. This involves removing a portion of the outer layer of the tooth structure.

  • Impression Taking:
    The dentist will take an impression of the prepared tooth and the adjacent teeth. This impression is sent to a dental laboratory where your custom-made crown is created.

  • Temporary Crown Placement:
    While waiting for your final dental crown, a temporary crown made of acrylic resin is placed to protect the prepared tooth.

  • Second Visit and Crown Placement:
    During the second visit, the dentist removes the temporary crown and cements the final dental crown in place. The result is a restored tooth that blends seamlessly with the surrounding natural teeth, both in terms of appearance and function.

The Cost of Dental Crowns: An Investment in Your Smile

The cost of dental crowns can vary, with an average price of around $2,100. While this might seem like a significant amount, consider it an investment in your smile and overall oral health. Here’s why:

  • Longevity:
    Dental crowns are durable and can last many years with proper care, making them a long-term investment. Whether they’re gold crowns or zirconia crowns, they’re designed to withstand the regular wear and tear of chewing.

  • Improved Oral Health:
    Dental crowns protect damaged teeth from further decay, infection, or damage. They cover the entire tooth surface, protecting it from food debris and food particles that can cause tooth decay. They’re particularly beneficial for chipped, cracked, or worn-down teeth, decayed teeth, or infected teeth.

  • Enhanced Appearance:
    Dental crowns improve the appearance of your teeth, contributing to a more confident smile. They’re custom-made to match the natural tooth colour and blend with your remaining teeth, providing a pleasing option for those seeking a beautiful smile.

Several factors can influence the cost of dental crowns:

  • Material:
    The type of material used (porcelain, ceramic, metal) can affect the cost. For instance, metal crowns, like gold crowns, might be more costly than other options.

  • The Complexity of the Procedure:
    Some complex cases may require additional procedures before placing the crown, such as a root canal treatment, dental implant, or build-up. These additional procedures can add to the overall cost.

  • Dentist’s Experience:
    The skills and experience of the dentist can also influence the cost. Patients might find that a more experienced dentist offers a higher quality of care, which can be reflected in the cost.

In the end, the cost of dental crowns should be viewed as an investment in your dental care, contributing to a healthier, more beautiful smile. Whether you’re considering dental crowns as a restorative option or exploring alternative options, it’s important to discuss these with your dentist to find the most suitable solution for you.

The Lifespan of Dental Crowns: How Long Do They Last?

On average, dental crowns can last between 5 and 15 years. However, with proper care, they can last even longer. Several factors can influence the lifespan of dental crowns:

  • Oral Hygiene Practices:
    Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups can extend the life of your dental crowns. An experienced dentist can provide guidance on maintaining your crowns during your regular dental visits.

  • Diet:
    Hard or crunchy foods can damage dental crowns. A diet that’s gentle on your teeth can help your crowns last longer. Your dentist can provide a list of foods to avoid to maintain the durability of your dental crowns.

  • Personal Habits:
    Habits, like teeth grinding or clenching, biting fingernails, or using your teeth to open packages, can shorten the lifespan of your dental crowns. Discussing these habits with your dentist can help identify strategies to protect your dental crowns.

Caring for Your Dental Crowns: For Longevity

Once you’ve invested in dental crowns, you’ll want to take steps to maximise their lifespan. Here are some tips on how to care for your dental crowns:

  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene Habits:
    Regular brushing and flossing can keep your dental crowns and natural teeth healthy. Using toothpaste with fluoride can provide an extra layer of protection.

  • Avoid Hard Foods:
    Hard foods can damage your dental crowns. Opt for soft foods and try to avoid biting down on hard objects. Following a diet that considers the durability of your dental crowns can extend their lifespan.

  • Regular Dental Check-ups:
    Regular visits to the dentist are recommended for early detection of dental issues and to maintain the condition of dental crowns. Scheduling follow-up appointments after your dental crown procedure allows your dentist to check that your crowns are functioning as they should.

The Benefits of Dental Crowns: Beyond Aesthetics

While dental crowns certainly improve the appearance of your smile, their benefits go beyond aesthetics. Here are some of the functional benefits of dental crowns:

  • Improved Chewing and Biting:
    Dental crowns restore the function of damaged teeth, allowing you to chew and bite normally. This continued chewing function can significantly improve your quality of life.

  • Protection for Damaged Teeth:
    Dental crowns protect damaged or weak teeth from further decay or damage by covering the entire surface of the tooth. This protection can reduce the risk of major dental issues down the line.

  • Improved Comfort:
    Damaged or decayed teeth can be sensitive or painful. By covering the affected tooth with a crown, discomfort can be alleviated.

Remember, the choice for patients when it comes to dental procedures is personal. Discussing your personal preferences with your dentist can help you make the right decision for your oral health.

Potential Risks and Complications of Dental Crowns

While dental crowns are generally safe, as with any dental procedure, there are potential risks and complications. However, these are rare and can be minimised with proper care and regular check-ups. Here are some potential risks:

  • Sensitivity or Discomfort:
    After the dental crown procedure, you might experience some sensitivity or discomfort, which usually subsides over time. Using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can help alleviate this discomfort.

  • Loose Crown:
    If the dental cement used to secure the crown washes out or if the underlying tooth structure decays, the crown might become loose. If this happens, contact your dentist immediately. A quick visit to the dentist will allow them to assess the issue and provide you with the necessary treatment.

  • Allergic Reaction:
    Though rare, some people might have an allergic reaction to some dental crown materials. If you have known allergies, discuss these with your dentist before the procedure.

  • Damage to Surrounding Teeth:
    While uncommon, the crowned tooth or adjacent teeth may suffer damage during the dental crown procedure. Regular check-ups can help identify and address any issues early.

  • Gum Disease:
    If not properly cared for, the area around the dental crown can become a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to gum disease. Maintaining good oral hygiene can help prevent this.

  • Crown Fall Out:
    In some cases, the entire crown may fall out due to decay of the underlying tooth or a failure of the dental cement. If this happens, keep the crown safe and contact your dentist as soon as possible.

Dental Crowns vs. Alternatives: Making the Right Choice

When it comes to restoring your amazing smile, dental crowns are not the only option. Alternatives like dental veneers, onlays and inlays, and composite bonding also offer effective solutions. Here’s a quick comparison:

  • Dental Veneers:
    Veneers are thin shells made of porcelain or composite material that are bonded to the front surface of a tooth. They are primarily used for cosmetic purposes to improve the appearance of teeth that are discoloured, chipped, or slightly misaligned. However, they may not be suitable for teeth with significant decay or for those who have habits like grinding or clenching their teeth.

  • Dental Onlays and Inlays:
    Onlays and inlays are indirect restorations that are used to repair teeth that have mild to moderate decay or damage. Inlays fit within the cusps (bumps) of a tooth, while onlays cover one or more cusps.

  • Composite Bonding:
    Composite bonding involves applying a tooth-coloured composite resin to the tooth and sculpting it into shape. It’s used to repair chipped, cracked, or discoloured teeth. However, it may not be as durable as porcelain crowns or veneers and might stain over time.

Several factors might influence your choice of treatment:

  • Oral Health:
    The condition of your teeth and gums can determine which option is most suitable. For example, a dental crown might be a suitable option if you have healthy gums and sufficient tooth structure.

  • Budget:
    The cost of dental crowns, veneers, onlay and inlays, and bonding varies, so your budget may influence your decision.

  • Aesthetic Preference:
    Each option offers a different aesthetic result, so your personal preferences will play a part. For instance, porcelain crowns offer a more natural appearance compared to composite bonding.

  • Lifestyle:
    Your lifestyle can also influence your choice. If you’re active and play contact sports, a more durable option, like a metal crown, might be more suitable.

  • Timeframe:
    The time you can dedicate to the procedure might also influence your decision. Dental crowns, veneers, onlays and inlays require multiple visits. On the other hand, dental bonding can usually be completed in one visit.

  • Health Fund:
    If you have a health fund, the coverage provided might also influence your choice of treatment. It’s important to check with your health fund provider to understand what’s covered.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the world of dental health can feel like a maze, but with the right information and guidance, you can make the right decisions for you. Dental crowns offer a reliable and effective restoration for damaged or decayed teeth, enhancing your smile and overall oral health.

Remember, every smile is unique, and so is every dental journey. Whether dental crowns are the right choice for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your oral health, budget, aesthetic preferences, and lifestyle.

At Hills Family Dental Centre, we’re committed to helping you navigate your dental journey with confidence. Our team of experienced professionals is ready to answer your questions, discuss your options, and guide you towards the appropriate treatment for your individual needs.

Ready to take the next step towards a healthier, brighter smile? We invite you to book a consultation appointment with us. You can reach us by phone or schedule an appointment online through our website.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Hills Family Dental Centre community!