Dental crowns, also known as dental caps, are versatile dental restorations that can be a vital solution for preserving and enhancing the appearance, strength and function of damaged or compromised teeth. This blog post will delve into the indications, contraindications, benefits, and drawbacks of dental crowns. We will also explore why proper oral care is essential to prevent dental caries (tooth decay) underneath a dental crown because, YES, it is still possible to get cavities on crowned teeth!
What is a Dental Crown?
A dental crown is a custom-made, tooth-shaped cap that is placed over a damaged or weakened tooth. It is designed to restore the tooth's shape, size, strength, and appearance, while also protecting it from further damage. Modern-day dental crowns are typically made from porcelain or ceramic (Zirconia, E-max). Older crowns were made from a combination of porcelain and metal (PFM) or metal alloys (gold, silver). Different materials convey different properties to the final crown.
Indications for Dental Crowns
Tooth Restoration: Dental crowns are used to restore teeth that have suffered extensive damage from cavities, fractures, or wear and tear.
Protection: Crowns are applied to protect a tooth following a root canal treatment, which can leave the tooth more brittle.
Cosmetic Enhancement: Crowns can improve the appearance of misshapen, discolored, or poorly aligned teeth, giving patients a more aesthetically pleasing smile.
Support for Dental Bridges: Crowns serve as anchor points for dental bridges by capping adjacent healthy teeth, ensuring stability and function.
Covering Dental Implants: Crowns are placed on dental implants to create a natural-looking and functional tooth replacement.
Repair of Fractured Teeth: Crowns can effectively mend fractured teeth in some cases, restoring their strength and preventing further damage.
Contraindications for Dental Crowns
Insufficient Tooth Structure: If a tooth lacks enough healthy structure to support a crown, it may not be a suitable candidate or it may need additional work to strengthen it before a crown can be placed.
Gum Disease: Untreated gum disease can jeopardize the stability of a dental crown, making it less effective and durable.
Uncontrolled Teeth Grinding (Bruxism): Chronic teeth grinding can lead to excessive wear and damage to both the crown and surrounding teeth.
Poor Oral Hygiene: Patients with a history of neglecting oral hygiene may not be suitable for dental crowns, as they are at a higher risk of developing cavities beneath the crown.
Preventing Caries Underneath Dental Crowns
It's crucial to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent tooth decay underneath a dental crown. Caries can develop when bacteria accumulate at the crown's margins (where the crown meets the natural structure of the tooth), leading to the degradation of the underlying tooth structure. Here are some tips to avoid this issue:
Regular Brushing and Flossing: Continue to brush and floss your teeth as you would with natural teeth to remove plaque and food particles.
Regular Dental Check-ups: Visit your dentist for regular check-ups to ensure the crown's integrity and detect any issues early.
Avoid Sticky or Hard Foods: Limit the consumption of foods that can be detrimental to crowns, such as very sticky or hard items.
Dental crowns offer valuable benefits in restoring damaged teeth, but they also have limitations and require proper care to prevent complications like caries. Understanding the indications, contraindications, benefits, and drawbacks of dental crowns is essential for making informed decisions about your oral health. Always consult your dentist to determine if a dental crown is the right solution for your specific needs.