Dentists commonly recommend dental crowns to protect teeth that have become structurally damaged due to a variety of problems, including severe cavities, infection, and other forms of tooth decay. The application of dental crowns is one of the most widespread dental procedures, so it is important for patients to understand how long they should be expected to last.
The average life span depends on the type of crown and how well it is cared for once applied. It also depends on more general variables like diet and overall oral health.
Crown types and function
Although the materials used to create dental crowns vary, they all serve the same basic function, which is to fully cover a damaged tooth, making it stronger and better aligned with other teeth. The materials used to construct dental crowns are generally chosen with durability in mind, with a few exceptions. Stainless steel crowns, commonly used in pediatric dentistry, are meant to be temporary. There are four basic material types used in crowns for adult teeth. They are as follows:
- Base metal alloys
- Gold alloys
- All-porcelain (ceramic)
- Porcelain-fused to metal
Comparing dental crowns
In a comparison of materials used in dental crowns, the American Dental Association rated the four types listed above and found that crowns made of base metal and gold alloys were the most durable and least resistant to wear and fracture. However, unlike crowns made from porcelain, those made from metal alloys can not be colored to blend in with natural teeth. As a result, they are often used for molars and other less visible teeth.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal or ceramic dental crowns are a common choice for front teeth due to their aesthetic appearance. Of these two options, porcelain-fused crowns are more durable. As the name suggests, this type of dental crown is composed of a core metal structure fused to a ceramic overlay.
The average life span of dental crowns
In theory, a dental crown made from base metal or gold alloys could last the lifetime of an adult tooth, while all-porcelain and porcelain-fused to metal crowns can last up to 15 years. The life span of the dental crown is highly dependent on other factors that are not directly related to the crown itself.
Patients who take good care of their teeth through a combination of regular cleanings, brushing twice daily and regular flossing, as well as avoiding sugary foods and bad habits like grinding, can expect to get more mileage out of their dental crowns.
Dental crowns are a great treatment option for damaged teeth. They serve the dual purpose of preventing future damage while also strengthening the tooth and improving the overall appearance of the mouth. While there is no guarantee that a dental crown will last a lifetime, improvements in process and materials used have gone a long way in extending their average life span. When combined with good oral hygiene practices, any of the four commonly used types of modern dental crowns can provide a long-term solution to a variety of tooth damage issues.
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