Don’t Expect Your Dental Crown to Be Permanent

Boutique Dentistry for Nashville, Tennessee

We often refer to “temporary” and “permanent” dental crowns to distinguish between those that are intended for short-term wear and long-term wear, but it’s important to remember that nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky–not dental crowns.

Remember, Your Teeth Were “Permanent,” Too

A good point of perspective to remember is that your adult teeth are often described as your “permanent” teeth to distinguish them from your “baby” or deciduous teeth. And it’s true that for some people, they can be.

Your teeth are amazing structures, some 300 million years in the making, with a very hard exterior, enamel, that is some 96% mineral. This hard enamel could be very brittle, but it’s built in a way that allows it to crack with minimal loss of strength, and the softer, more flexible dentin inside allows for a cushioning of bite force.

But even these remarkable structures can’t last forever. If your teeth were really permanent, there’d be no need for dental fillings or dental crowns.

Ways Dental Crowns Can Fail

Dental crowns are stronger than your natural teeth in some ways. First, they’re more resistant to acid attack than tooth enamel, so drinking sodas and attack by bacteria aren’t going to affect them as much as they did your natural teeth. And dental crowns are much stronger and harder than your natural teeth, so they’re not going to wear away or crack as much as natural teeth do.

But cracking is much more serious for dental crowns than for natural teeth. Unlike natural teeth, crowns can’t close their cracks, so once a crown cracks, it has essentially failed.

More often, though, it’s the tooth underneath a crown that fails. The most common cause of dental crown failure is when decay develops under the crown, which then has to be removed in order to repair the decay. Often, it can be replaced with another crown that covers the new decay, but in some cases we may have to remove the tooth entirely and replace it with a dental implant.

How to Make Your Crowns Last

So how long can you expect dental crowns to last? They have a wide range of lifespans. At the low end, some crowns may only last five or six years. Other crowns, though, can last decades. What makes the difference? Here are a few factors to consider.

Your Dentist: Dentists have different approaches to designing and placing dental crowns. A neuromuscular dentist like Dr. Kent E. White carefully accounts for the bite forces in your mouth, reducing the stress on your dental crowns, so it’s less likely that you’ll have a crown crack. It will also reduce wear on opposing teeth–and it’s not going to cause TMJ, as dental crowns can if bite forces aren’t properly accounted for.

The Crown: Dental crowns come in many different varieties. If you pick a crown for its cheapness or quickness, you might not be investing in toughness. Unfortunately, there’s no quick reference number for dental crowns the way there is for tires. It would be nice to be able to say, “This is a 10 Gigabite crown,” but it’s not that simple. Talk to your dentist about the different options that are available, and you will understand which ones are designed to last.

The Maintenance:  How you treat a dental crown makes a big difference to its lifespan. If you use your teeth for anything other than chewing food (e.g. opening bottles, breaking ice, or cracking nuts), you’re more likely to damage your crown. And if you’re not taking proper care of your teeth, you’re more likely to develop decay under the dental crown.

Would you like to learn more about how long your dental crown could last? Please call  for an appointment with a Nashville, TN cosmetic dentist at the Center for Advanced Dentistry today.