Common Questions About Dental Crowns

If you had to guess, how long do you think people have been using dental crowns to treat oral health issues? The answer might surprise you: we’ve been using them since 166 A.D. That’s nearly 2000 years! The materials, technology, and methods we use to place dental crowns have changed a lot over the centuries, but the treatment has endured because it works. When a tooth is severely damaged from decay or an injury, dental crowns are often the only way to save it, restoring and protecting its health, function, and appearance all at once.

Modern technology has only made crowns more effective, more comfortable, and more beautiful than ever. Since they’ve been around so long, however, there are a lot of outdated or simply untrue beliefs out there about dental crowns that could confuse you if you’re looking into them for the first time. Having the right information is crucial to making an informed decision about your oral health, so we’ve put together the answers to the 10 questions and concerns we hear about dental crowns most often.

1. Do I really need a dental crown? Can’t I just extract my tooth?

Yes, extracting your tooth is an option, but we don’t recommend it if there’s another way because it can lead to complications down the road. When you lose a tooth, the other teeth in your mouth slowly begin to shift into the new gap, creating more space between your remaining teeth. This can lead to a misaligned bite, which makes it harder to clean your teeth thoroughly, increasing your risk of cavities and gum disease. Plus, your tooth roots stimulate your jaw bone to keep it healthy—without it, your jaw begins suffering bone loss in that spot. The best way to prevent complications like this is to replace your missing tooth. As a result, it’s healthier and less expensive in the long run to keep your natural tooth whenever possible.

2. Are there other alternatives to dental crowns?

Inlays and onlays can sometimes be alternatives to a dental crown. They cover less of your tooth than a dental crown does but are more durable, and they cover more area than a dental filling does. An inlay fills the area between the cusps, or raised edges, of your tooth, while an onlay extends onto one or more of the cusps. Like dental crowns, inlays and onlays are made of porcelain, so they’re highly customizable and will blend in with your natural tooth completely. Whether or not an inlay or onlay will work for you instead of a dental crown depends on your specific situation, including how much damage has been done to your natural tooth. Your dentist is here to help you get the best treatment for you, so don’t be afraid to ask them if there are any alternative options that they can recommend for your case.

3. Don’t crowns take too much time because you have to get a temporary and then a permanent one?

At Tory Hill, you don’t have to worry about it taking a long time to get your dental crown. We use advanced in-office technology to design, mill, and place your customized crown all in one same-day sitting. The E4D Dentist system allows our staff to take quick digital scans or impressions of your teeth. This becomes an incredibly accurate 3D model of your teeth that she uses to design your dental crown. Once the design is complete, we print your crown right in our office and place it on your tooth right away. You’ll leave our office with your permanent crown in a single appointment—no waiting and no dealing with temporary crowns!

4. I heard crowns cause bite misalignment. Is that true?

If a crown doesn’t fit properly, it can cause a few issues with the way your bite fits together. Our crowns are expertly shaped using detailed 3D models of your teeth to prevent this issue. When we design your crown with the E4D Dentist system, she can examine how your crown will interact with the teeth around it and your bite as a whole, helping him ensure a natural fit. She will also check your bite when he’s placing your crown to ensure that it fits perfectly, and will make any adjustments necessary before cementing it in place. Our crowns are so expertly shaped that they will even make your bite better! We want you to feel comfortable and happy with your restoration, so if your crown doesn’t feel right or seems to be impacting your bite, you can always come back to our Buxton dentist office and get it ground down a little more for no extra charge.

5. They don’t look like real teeth, do they?

Actually, modern crowns look just like natural teeth! Thanks to modern dental technology, materials, and procedures, dental crowns are highly customizable. When you get a crown, you work with us to choose its size, shape, and shade. There are so many shades of white available that you’ll be able to match your crown to the exact shade of your natural teeth, allowing it to blend in seamlessly with the rest of your smile.

6. Can I get dental decay underneath the crown?

Your crown acts as a shield for your tooth, helping to protect it from future injuries and decay. Crowns are very good at this, but you have a part to play in protecting your crown and the tooth underneath it, too: prevention. It’s the key to ensuring that your crown lasts as long as possible. You should brush your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and use mouthwash daily. As long as your dentist places the crown well and you take good care of your teeth, you shouldn’t have to worry about decay. If plaque does accumulate, your dentist can replace your crown.

7. Can my crown cause sensitivity or discomfort? What do I do if it does?

It’s normal for you to experience some tooth sensitivity for a few days after you’ve received a dental crown, but it shouldn’t last past the healing period. If it does, it could be a sign that your crown isn’t fitting properly or that some of your dentin, which is the sensitive layer underneath your tooth enamel, isn’t completely covered. You can call our office to schedule a consultation so that Dr. Fenn can check out your crown and make any of the necessary changes.

8. What if my crown becomes loose, chips, or fractures?

If your crown becomes loose, chips, or fractures, it can let bacteria underneath where it can reach the vulnerable interior of your tooth. This can quickly lead to decay if it goes untreated, so you should contact us right away to schedule an appointment. If you have a porcelain crown, small amounts of damage like a chip can be repaired pretty easily, but severely cracked or fractured crowns will need to be replaced.

9. How long does nerve pain last after getting a dental crown?

When crowns are placed for reasons other than a root canal, the procedure can sometimes irritate the nerve. This pain doesn’t always occur, but when it does, it should go away entirely over the course of the two-week healing process. If you have nerve pain that’s lasting longer than this, you should call and schedule an appointment. It could simply be that your crown needs to be adjusted, but it could also be a sign of a bigger issue. Either way, it’s best to get in to see Dr. Fenn as soon as possible—that way, she can identify the problem and get you feeling better in no time!

10. I’ve heard crowns can cause an allergic reaction or a dark line on my gums. Is this true?

This is only true about some types of crowns. Metal and porcelain-on-metal crowns have their strengths, but they can stain your gums over time, leading to a dark line along your gums in front of your crown. Additionally, if you have a metal allergy or sensitivity, these types of crowns can cause an allergic reaction. Thankfully, there are ways to test for metal allergies and sensitivities before you commit to a crown that contains metal. At Tory Hill, we offer all-porcelain crowns as a beautiful alternative to crowns that contain metal. Since all-porcelain crowns don’t contain metal, they’re a great option if you have metal allergies or sensitivities. Plus, they’re durable and won’t stain your gums over time, helping them maintain their natural beauty for years to come!

Modern technology has enabled crowns to become the best—and often the only—method of saving a severely damaged tooth. In just a single dental appointment, a crown can restore a damaged tooth’s health, function, and unique appearance, creating a beautiful smile that’ll last you for years to come. If you’d like to learn more about how a same-day dentist appointment could transform your oral health, feel free to call our Buxton dentist office to schedule an appointment at any time.