What is a Dental Crown?

What is a Dental Crown?

A dental crown is a tooth shaped helmet that sits completely over your tooth (or an implant), right down to the gum line. It acts like a helmet against the forces of chewing, protecting the tooth underneath and improving its appearance; giving it back the size, shape and colour to allow you to chew properly.

About a third of the Western population have at least one dental crown and as you get older the likelihood increases; half of adults over the age of 50 would probably have a crown.

Teeth that are heavily filled are more likely to break or fail and need larger fillings. This cycle of filling teeth continues until a crown becomes a better treatment option thus protecting what tooth you have remaining.

A crown may also be called a ‘tooth crown’, ‘tooth cap’ or a ‘dental cap’ and is a great way to restore teeth which are heavily broken down. It may of course, also be carried out for cosmetic dental reasons. Direct bonding, veneers and other more conservative options should always be explored first before considering a dental crown. They may not be suitable or indeed possible, but should at least be taken into consideration. It is an expensive restoration because it involves two appointments and the crown has to be made by a dental technician.

There are a number of different types of crown. The procedure for a crown is pretty much the same for all of them but the materials used by the dental technician to make the actual crown are different.

How Long do Dental Crowns Last?

On average a dental crown can be expected to last 10-20 years. But it is not unusual for it to last considerably longer.

I know that this is a huge range but reliable long-term data is always difficult to collect and few good studies are around for us to rely on.

There are many factors that will influence how long your crown lasts. Here are the main ones:

  • The tooth– The quality of the core, amount of tooth remaining and state of the nerve
  • The dentist– Their experience, the quality of preparation, impression and cementation procedure
  • The type of crown (material)- Full gold crowns when done correctly last the longest
  • The technician (lab)- The quality and fit of the crown
  • How well you look after it
  • The forces you place on it.

So a successful crown relies on the correct diagnosis, quality treatment from the dentist and you!