Dental Crowns: a complete easy guide with everything you need to know!

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Dental Crowns

Welcome to our complete guide on dental crowns. Our dentist, Dr. Cevahir Taşkın, has written this guide and divided it into six parts. Each part will help you understand in detail a unique area of crowns, from the average prices to what you should know about crowns in Turkey. Here, we will start with all the general and in-depth info you need to know about crowns. In the next part of this guide on dental crowns, we will talk about the types of crowns.

When you finish all the chapters, you’ll be a crown pro and you’ll be able to decide if this treatment is good for you and your needs. We always believe an informed patient is a happy patient. We’re sure you’ll enjoy your bright smile!

Dental crowns are a dentistry treatment comprising caps positioned on top of an original tooth needing to be covered, protected, restored, or beautified. We can also use dental crowns as a cosmetic treatment to get a healthy and aesthetic smile. This treatment is irreversible and permanent, as the teeth need to be reshaped to create space for the crown. Also, dental crowns are extremely long-lasting.

What are dental crowns? 

A dental crown is a treatment one needs when the natural tooth structure experiences extensive damage. The damage can occur because of injury, tooth decay, weak tooth, tooth fracture, chipping, etc. This treatment has been, in fact, used for many years. Dentists have developed better crown designs with new materials and more advanced dental procedures. This has led to leaving behind the anesthetic gold and most of the potential side effects.

Many people experience unexplained pain from filled back teeth. This is often caused by hairline cracks in the tooth chewing part. When you place crowns on these teeth, you will notice relief from the pain and you will go back to full dental function.

In front teeth, older fillings cause weak teeth or aesthetic problems because of stains and chips. Also, if you underwent root canal fillings, you may have crowns on top of it to prevent breakage.

Almost everyone can get a dental crown, no matter how young or old. They’re just a dental visit away. From toddlers to seniors, everyone can benefit from this treatment. This makes dental crowns universal and one of the most used treatments in dentistry.

In case you are new to how crowns work, here’s what crowns do in simple words:

Dental Crown explained: Need a simple explanation on crowns? Imagine a beanie hat for your teeth. It covers all, is taller than your head, and goes all around it. That’s exactly what a crown does and what’s a dental crown procedure!

Fun fact about crowns:
Crowns are so biocompatible and so similar to teeth they have the same ability to expand or contract with temperature changes. With hot food and drinks your teeth – and crowns – will expand. While with icy food and drinks, your teeth and crowns will contract.

What do dental crowns look like?

Dental crowns look like a cap or hat that covers the entire tooth to protect the natural tooth structure. They cover and reshape teeth, creating protection, and are customizable as well. You can find crowns made of different materials including porcelain-fused-to-metal, full metal crowns, composite, etc.

Do dental crowns look natural?

Thanks to new technology, crowns no longer look artificial and blend in with your real teeth. Porcelain fused with metal or E-max crowns looks the most natural among the types of crowns.

Are dental crowns permanent?

Yes, dental crowns are permanent and once you get them, you won’t be able to be without them. If a crown breaks or cracks or is too worn down, it has to be replaced.

So, before making any treatment decisions it is important to understand what you’re getting and what dental crown procedure entails.

What are dental crowns for?

Dental crowns are good for treating several dental issues and protecting your teeth from further damage. Here are some of those problems that going through with a dental crown procedure can be beneficial for you.

A decayed tooth can cause you a lot of pain in the long run. It is important to address this issue before it is too late. Crowns can restore your tooth after the dentist treats the decay.

A fractured tooth can also be treated with a type of crown. This treatment would work for a broken or chipped tooth as well. It can give the tooth a new structure and restore its ability to chew properly.

After a root canal, a crown might deem necessary to protect your tooth from further damage and to restore its function.

Severe discoloration can be treated using a permanent crown. If your tooth is severely stained or discolored, you can get a crown to brighten up its appearance.

A crown is not for you, if…

While dental crowns are great for restoring a damaged tooth, they might not work in certain situations. Here are the situations where crowns may not work for you, if:

  • You want to replace the entire tooth from the root (you need a dental implant first)
  • You have lost almost all your teeth (you need an implant first)
  • You are allergic to dental glue or cement (you need an implant first)
  • Tooth decay or cavity is untreatable (you need an extraction and implant first)

If you’re not sure if crowns would be a suitable treatment for you, you can read our articles where we compare dental crowns vs implants, and go through dental crown alternatives for more information before consulting your dentist!

Who is a candidate for dental crowns? 

Dental crowns can be used for various reasons, both medical and aesthetic, and are often suggested by a dentist because of their durability and effectiveness proven throughout the years.

  • Cover teeth with large fillings and not enough natural teeth left
  • Protect weak teeth in case of breakage or chipping
  • Protect decayed tooth
  • Restore worn-down teeth
  • Cover a dental implant
  • Replace fractured teeth
  • Hold a dental bridge in its place
  • Cover teeth treated with a root canal procedure
  • Cover extreme discolorations and stains
  • Get a more aesthetic smile for your normal teeth

Your dentist will suggest dental crowns if necessary and will evaluate with you if this treatment is your best option and if you’re a good candidate for it. We’ll guarantee a beautiful smile!

How old do you have to be to get crowns?

The general rule for dental restorations is that the patient must be at least 16 years of age. It is because, until this age, the jaw is still developing and certain complications can occur. Children can get crowns only if there is severe dental damage such as tooth fractures or a genetic issue. The best way to find out if it is okay for your child to get a crown and to make any treatment decisions is to speak to a qualified pediatric dentist. More on this later on in the article.

Is there an age limit for crowns?

No, there is no age limit for dental crowns. Also, there is no minimum age for getting a dental crown, it’s simply sufficient that a tooth is damaged enough due to decay, too much wear, or it is just plain broken because of tooth fractures. From toddlers to senior citizens, everyone can get them.

Dental crowns for toddlers

It can be surprising, but dental crowns can be a solution for kids and toddlers too. They are usually advised when a primary tooth – not a milk tooth – has one or more large cavities, a bad development, or there are tooth fractures. Studies show in 42% of children aged 2 to 12 at least one cavity is present. It’s also important to remember children often break their teeth because of accidents. If missing or highly damaged teeth get ignored or not cured, the surrounding teeth might shift and become crooked, requiring braces or aligners in the future.

Dental crowns for seniors

For seniors, you automatically think of dentures. But dentures are not the only treatments you can get when you’re old. Crowns can be used at any age. Especially with age, teeth can have more wear or decay or easily break. In these cases, dental crowns are the best solution. As long as there’s a tooth to apply the crown on, you can easily get veneers at any age.

Dental crowns for crooked teeth

Many people are curious about the possibility of fixing crooked teeth with a dental crown. Now, let’s be clear. Crowns cannot fix crooked teeth. They cannot move teeth or act like Invisalign or braces. However, you can get a chance with incredible results by using crowns on crooked, receding, erupting, or crowded teeth. The only characteristic needed if you want crowns on crooked teeth is you need to have the surrounding teeth aligned with the one getting crowns. You will then have healthy teeth looking perfect.

Dental crowns to straighten teeth, is it possible?

Dental crowns cannot straighten teeth as a whole, they’re not braces or Invisalign or braces. However, you can cover the part of the tooth that is visible and fix minor cases of misaligned teeth, creating the appearance of teeth that are straight and aligned. This can be a good solution if just a small part of your teeth is misaligned and you need an aesthetic solution for it.

Dental crowns for bruxism, is it possible?

In short yes, but bear in mind that due to the immense pressure caused by bruxism, it is possible that your crowns could get damaged as well. So the best way to handle this problem is to wear a mouth guard at night to protect your permanent crowns and to avoid tooth fractures.

When can’t you use crowns?

Dental crowns are pretty much universal, but there are some cases requiring a different solution. You can’t have dental crowns if you have any of the problems mentioned here.

Allergy to anesthesia: if you can’t handle anesthesia or are allergic to the types used, you may not get this treatment. However, other types of anesthesia may be used. You should discuss this with your dentist.

Serious medical conditions: if you had a recent stroke or suffer from serious heart disease or any other cardiac problems, you should restrain from this kind of treatment. Another option could get an exam from your cardiologist and ask them if dental crowns are a good option for you.

Other treatments are available: traditional crowns may not be the perfect fit for you! Your dentist may suggest treatments requiring less extensive preparation, like onlays, inlays, dental veneers, and fillings.

Tooth Loss: if your natural tooth structure is missing you’re not a candidate for a crown. You may need an alternative to crowns like an artificial tooth option, a dental implant for example. It’s not possible to have crowns on missing teeth as they are bonded to teeth.

Before ruling out complete crowns, get in touch with us and we’ll find the best treatment for your needs.

Can dental crowns replace missing teeth?

No, crowns cannot replace missing teeth without dental implants. If the root of your tooth is intact but there is a lack of chewing surface, a crown is possible. However, in such a situation, you must have at least a 2 mm chewing surface available. Dental crowns also work if you’ve lost your tooth structure because of tooth fractures or decay.

Is a dental crown a root canal?

No. A crown is a cap or hat on top of your teeth. A root canal is a treatment to remove infected or affected pulp and nerves from your teeth, followed by fillings. A root canal can be performed before the installation of a crown in case of pulp or nerve damage.

When are dental crowns necessary?

So the first question people ask is when are dental crowns necessary. Well, it ultimately depends on your dental condition. There are multiple situations where there’s no other way than a crown to restore a tooth. The situations are as follows:

  • After a root canal when the tooth is severely damaged
  • The tooth is severely misshapen or chipped
  • When you have fractured teeth
  • To replace an infected or worn-out filling

Dental crown pros and cons

Dental crowns are one of the most used and performed dental treatments out there. They’re both used for restorative care and cosmetic procedures. This is because there are so many advantages to it and, thanks to the advanced technologies, just a few cons.

Let’s see some benefits of dental crowns:

  • They can save an extensively damaged tooth with no extraction
  • They’re not extremely expensive
  • Extremely long-lasting
  • Protect your teeth forever
  • Straighten your teeth
  • Give superior aesthetic
  • They’re very versatile
  • Can be used on dead teeth
  • Correct extreme discoloration permanently with no constant whitening
  • Improve the aesthetic of your teeth
  • Proven effectiveness
  • There are hypoallergenic materials

As in every procedure, there are some disadvantages connected to dental crowns.

Knowing the cons of crowns is helpful to make a conscious choice. Some of the main cons to keep in mind when considering crowns are:

  • The treatment is permanent and irreversible because of the filling of the tooth.
  • There may be discomfort after the procedure, with some temporary pain.
  • You may experience some tooth sensitivity, especially to hot and cold.
  • There may be problems when biting down and it may be because of an ill-fitting crown.
  • They can chip, especially the ones made of softer materials.
  • The cement may go away, allowing bacteria underneath the crown. This can create decay or cavities.
  • There can be an allergic reaction to porcelain or metal crowns.
  • They are not eternal and crowns may need replacing after 10-15 years.
  • If you don’t take good care of them, they may need replacing earlier.

Is dental crown safe?

Yes. The dental crown treatment is safe but there may be some side effects or complications. An experienced dentist is able to tell you if you’re a good candidate for dental crowns and how to avoid complications. A skilled team will know how to handle a perfect procedure.

Will crowns ruin my teeth?

Well, they wouldn’t ruin your teeth per se. But your teeth will be filed down and will stay like that forever. If your crown is ill-fitting it can wear on the adjacent teeth and create sensitivity – sensitive teeth and sensitive parts around the crown – or damage. Definitely get in touch with your dentist if you feel continuous discomfort and pain after getting a dental crown. Dental crowns can also destroy other teeth if the crown is too abrasive. It may wear on surrounding or opposing teeth, leading to sensitivity or even damage. Tell your dentist if there is any pain or discomfort surrounding your crown right away!

A qualified healthcare provider will know how to install the perfect crowns fit for your personal preference and needs!

Do crowns look fake?

Yes, there’s a possibility for your crowns to look fake if they are too opaque. More often, low-quality crowns tend to look fake because they are made of cheap materials such as resin or composite. Crowns more translucent in color tend to look more natural and blend in with the rest of your teeth conveniently. This is how the TikTok trend Turkey Teeth started.

There is an explanation for “why do some crowns look more fake?” and it all goes to the quality of the materials that are used to create them and their color. Cheap resin crowns or composite materials usually end up looking fake. Also if the metal line of the crown is visible from your gumline that could come off as fake too.

Who invented dental crowns?

Dental crowns are probably the first dentistry treatment discovered. They don’t go back tens of years or hundreds but thousands. Yes, thousands! Let’s delve into the history of dental crowns:

First Dental Crowns: 2000 BC

On the island of Luzon, Philippines, there was a skeleton dating back 4000 years with gold caps on its teeth. This was a dental treatment reserved for only the richest of people, of course. Also, in 200 AD, the Etruscan population used many materials for both bridges and crowns. One of these materials was gold. Yes, gold crowns were used 4000 years ago!

This continued for around 1500 years and was the gold standard in dentistry procedures.

Ceramic Dental Crowns: 1800s

During the 1800s ceramic dental crowns emerged with the “jacket crown”. The “Jacket crown was created by Charles H. Land and it was developed from ceramic. E.B. Paulding worked on the jacket crowns, improving them, and introduced them to the market in the early 1900s until the 50s. This type of crown would crack easily during creation and wear, making them short-lived.

Dr. Charles Land introduced the all-porcelain jacket crowns in 1903. These are the most similar to the ones we use today.

Porcelain-fused-to-metal Crowns: 1950s

Porcelain crowns were the best and newest crown type until porcelain-fused-to-metal came around. They were extremely fragile, while PFTM crowns were more durable. While the porcelain on the outer layer allowed a beautiful aesthetic result, the inside metal allows them to last a long time.

Would you like to learn more about the history of dental treatments, tools, and practices? We have an article dedicated to how and when the toothbrush was invented!

References: 

Lynch CD, Hale R, Chestnutt IG, Wilson NHF. Reasons for placement and replacement of crowns in general dental practice. Br Dent J. 2018;225(3):229-234. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30095124/

Lei YC. Zhonghua Kou Qiang Yi Xue Za Zhi. 1991;26(6):329-388. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1820237/

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