Most people need at least a few dental fillings during their lifetime. But when a cavity is too large or a tooth is severely damaged, Dr. Roberto Velasco and Dr. Camilla Barrilleaux, DMD, MS, recommend a porcelain dental crown to preserve the structure of the tooth. Dental crowns look, feel, and function like natural teeth.
Crowns, also called caps, were initially made of steel or gold and evolved into porcelain-made caps in 1903. Dental technology has come a long way, and dental caps now match the size and color of natural teeth. There are different types of dental crowns, including ceramic, resin, porcelain, or a combination. Still, all-porcelain crowns are considered superior.
Dental Crown Basics
A dental crown protects a damaged tooth. The crown covers the top of the tooth to the gum line and restores the tooth’s shape. The dentists at Uptown Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry may recommend a crown to:
- Strengthen a weak or broken tooth
- Secure a dental bridge in place
- Repair a worn-down tooth
- Restore a discolored or misshapen tooth
- Cover an implant
- Improve a tooth’s alignment and shape
The Dental Crown Procedure
- During the first visit, the dentist will take an accurate impression of your teeth and prepare the decayed, cracked, discolored, or damaged tooth. A temporary crown is placed over the repaired, weakened tooth, and the impressions are sent to the lab.
- During the second visit, the permanent crown is placed over the tooth.
The Recovery Process
The recovery after a porcelain crown procedure is relatively short. Some minor irritation and inflammation may result from the process, and the dentist will provide you with aftercare tips. The tooth will feel sensitive or slightly different than before, but you will adjust within a few days. If your bite feels uncomfortable, contact the dentist for an examination.
Crowns Versus Fillings
Dr. Camilla Barrilleaux performs an examination and uses x-rays to decide whether a root canal and crown or a filling is needed. Her decision depends on the extent of the damage done to the tooth.
- Treats severe decay or damage
- Completely covers the decayed or damaged tooth
- Requires impressions
- Completed in two office visits
- More expensive than a filling
- Addresses more serious concerns
- Treats minor tooth damage or decay
- Fills in decay but does not cover the tooth
- Completed in one dental visit
- More affordable than a crown
- Preserves more of the natural tooth
- White fillings match the color of the tooth
- Addresses minor to moderate decay
Can I Choose a Filling or a Cap?
If the tooth is severely damaged or has severe decay, the filling material won’t be capable of properly restoring the tooth to its former appearance and complete function. A crown is different from a filling because it covers the entire visible portion of the tooth above the gum and lasts much longer.
There are times when the tooth damage is minimal but the patient still chooses a porcelain crown for durability. Ultimately the choice should be discussed with the dentist. Crowns also protect the tooth from further damage and sensitivity.
When teeth have been weakened by repeated dental restorations or severe decay, Dr. Barrilleaux typically recommends a crown to prevent further damage and to save the tooth from becoming compromised.
Five Benefits of Porcelain Crowns
A porcelain cap may be a good option if you have serious decay or you tend to hide your smile because of a damaged or discolored tooth. The top five benefits of a porcelain crown:
1. Relieves pain caused by a chipped or cracked tooth
A chipped or cracked tooth can cause pain when you eat, drink, or talk. The dentist will recommend a procedure to address the problem, such as a root canal or filling, and a crown will cover the tooth to reduce sensitivity and stop further damage to the tooth. The crown protects the tooth’s structure and reduces the sensitivity within the tooth.
2. The procedure is simple
The dental crown procedure is simple. The dentist cleans and preps the tooth, removes decay, and shapes the tooth so that the crown can securely lock into position. The dentist then creates a tooth mold and sends it to the lab. While the lab completes the cap, the dentist covers the tooth with a temporary crown. When the dental crown is complete, the dentist puts it in place.
3. Crowns are custom-made
A dental crown is custom-made to match the surrounding teeth in your mouth. It will look and feel completely natural! No one can distinguish a custom-made crown from your other teeth.
4. Helps restore a beautiful smile
Dental crowns restore function and provide cosmetic benefits. Broken, cracked, chipped, or stained teeth typically cause people to hide their teeth and feel self-conscious when smiling. Dental crowns restore the appearance of the teeth so you can smile and socialize confidently.
5. Crowns last for 15 to 30 years
Advanced technology offers outstanding dental crowns lasting from 15 to 30 years with routine dental care. Dr. Barrilleaux uses the best techniques and bonding material to ensure that the crown will last a very long time.
Dental crowns stop pain and discomfort caused by chips, cracks, decay, or damage and provide a beautiful smile. If you are experiencing pain or have concerns about a discolored, cracked or chipped tooth, request a crown consultation at Uptown Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry in Houston, Texas. The dentist will examine your teeth, take x-rays, and provide you with a dental plan for a beautiful, pain-free smile and healthy, strong teeth.
Crowns in Implant Dentistry
Dental implants are recommended for patients with missing or severely damaged teeth. Each implant consists of a titanium anchor integrated into the jawbone and a customized dental crown permanently attached to the anchor.
Dental implants offer an attractive, long-lasting, functional solution for patients with a missing tooth or teeth. The custom-made cap is created to match the shape and color of the other teeth and is barely distinguishable.
Protecting a Tooth after a Root Canal
A root canal is needed when a cavity has penetrated the dental pulp. The dental pulp is a type of living tissue within the tooth’s inner structure.
Signs a root canal is needed:
- Severe pain
- Prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold
- Tooth darkening
- Tender or swollen gums
- Dental abscess
Steps in a root canal procedure:
- Dental x-rays
- Prepping the tooth
- Removing the infected pulp
- Restoring the tooth
- Covering it with a cap
A dental crown is typically needed to restore the tooth’s natural appearance and strength after a root canal weakens it.
Signs A Replacement Crown is Needed
Dental crowns can last 15 years or longer with proper oral hygiene. Crowns are affected by diet as well as excess grinding and clenching of the teeth. Harder acidic foods and beverages risk breaking down or corroding the crown. Eating a healthy diet and visiting the dentist regularly for routine cleanings and checkups will extend the life of your crown.
A dental crown may need to be replaced if:
- It is over 10 years old
- The crown falls out
- Your bite is uneven or abnormal
- The surrounding area is swollen, inflamed, or painful
- The gum is receding around the tooth with the crown
It’s important to replace a crown if a cavity develops underneath it and the decay has spread deeper into the tooth. Neglecting this issue could require a root canal or risk unwanted complications. Dental crowns are meant to protect the vulnerable tooth by covering it. If the crown is no longer fulfilling its purpose, the tooth is in jeopardy.
Caring for a Dental Crown
Although porcelain dental crowns are strong and function like a natural tooth, Dr. Barrilleaux recommends avoiding certain foods and drinks after getting a tooth capped, including:
- Carmel, candy, and sticky foods with sugar content, increase bacteria and the risk of decay.
- Fizzy drinks, including pop and cola, have a high sugar content that encourages enamel erosion and an increased risk of cavities. Chewing gum can stick to the crown and grow bacteria.
Recommendations for Preserving Your Porcelain Crown
- Avoid hard or sticky foods
- Floss regularly
- Brush twice a day
- Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash
- Stop smoking
- Avoid biting hard objects like fingernails, ice, and pencils
- Use a mouthguard when playing impact sports
- Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings
Learn More About Dental Crowns
Dental crowns restore the appearance of unhealthy, damaged, or broken teeth. Call 713-609-1267 or visit Houston, TX, to schedule a dental crown consultation.