Many of us like to think of our teeth as being indestructible, but, as strong as the enamel material might be, there often comes a point where our teeth become damaged. Teeth can develop cavities, become worn down, and develop cracks and chips — the possibilities are nearly endless.
A century ago, if one of your teeth had been damaged in this way, chances are your dentist would’ve had no choice but to remove the tooth in question. Luckily for you, though, dentistry has developed quite a bit in the past 100 years.
At Mint Dental Alaska, your local Anchorage dentist, our go-to solution for damaged teeth is no longer an extraction. We now have a variety of techniques and solutions for damage to your teeth, including one of the more sophisticated techniques called a dental crown.
What is a dental crown?
The name “dental crown” might sound somewhat funny, but it actually describes the procedure fairly well: a dental crown looks like a “cap” that is placed over and attached to a tooth. Dental crowns are custom shaped to fit the tooth they are capping and can be adjusted to perfectly fit the shape and color of the tooth it is fixing.
This is a great option if you have a single tooth that is damaged and something like dentures or a dental bridge is excessive. We can also use this procedure instead of fillings in some cases where the filling might be to large.
Types of Dental Crown Material
As the technology and tools available have developed, so have the types of Dental crowns. Currently they can be made from a variety of materials, each with its own advantages and drawbacks. The most common dental crown materials used include:
- Stainless steel: Stainless steel crowns are typically used only as a temporary measure (for example, as a placeholder for a permanent dental crown to be attached in the future), but they are relatively inexpensive, so they make a common crown choice for baby teeth. The crowns come premade, however, meaning that they can’t be customized to match a patient’s teeth. They are also a conspicuously silver color, an esthetic disadvantage that has made them less and less popular.
- Other metal alloys: Of course, stainless steel isn’t the only kind of metal that can be used. Alloys made from gold, palladium, and even nickel or chromium can be used. The main drawback is, again, the look, but metal crowns do have the advantage of greater strength and durability. They typically last longer than other types of dental crowns, and don’t chip and crack as easily.
- Porcelain materials: Dental crowns made from porcelain materials are typically the most common choice nowadays because they look exactly like an ordinary tooth. Dentists can fashion porcelain dental crowns to match a patient’s tooth exactly and install it so that the crown is indistinguishable to an outside observer. The crowns themselves are relatively durable, but can still chip or break off with pressure. Additionally, the crowns can cast a slight wearing effect on nearby teeth.
- Resin: Dental crowns can also be made from resin. These tend to be used the least often, however, because they are simultaneously the most expensive and most easily fractured dental crowns. We very rarely will recommend using a resin crown.
Why might I need a dental crown?
So, in what kinds of situations would you need a dental crown? What kind of damage would merit the treatment? Only a qualified dentist can diagnose your specific situation, but, for the most part, dental crowns are used:
- To repair and restore a broken tooth that has, for example, cracked in half, or a severely worn-down tooth, which can happen to patients who are prone to teeth-grinding.
- To protect a weak tooth that is prone to decay and other damage.
- As an alternative to a cavity filling, though this is typically only explored as an option when the filling is so large that repairing the remaining tooth would be futile.
- To support a dental bridge or to cover a dental implant.
- To hide a misshapen or severely discolored tooth.
Dental Crown Procedure
If you decide to proceed with the dental crown procedure, then we will schedule your appointments. Because of the custom nature of crowns, and to guarantee the best fit the completed procedure will normally take two or three visits to the dentists.
The first visit normally will involve taking a detailed molding of your tooth, so the finished crown matches the size, shape, and color of your tooth. We may also install a temporary crown at this point to ensure no further damage is done while waiting for the permanent piece.
During you next appointment we will install and adjust the finished custom crown to your tooth. The dental crown glue and material we use will also be matched to guarantee the best fit. When we are finished no one will be able to tell the difference between your original tooth and the crown!
At the time of the installation we will also determine if a final visit is needed to check the fit of the crown after it has settled in the mouth.
Another good piece of news is that the dental crown procedure normally comes with very little pain. After having the permanent piece planted you may have some sensitivity with the tooth or in the gums. This is normally very mild and shouldn’t last long.
Dental Crown Cost
Crowns can range in price depending on material and the location and the size of the tooth. That being said, we can give you some estimates to give you a general idea.
Generally speaking, a porcelain metal combination will be the least expensive, starting around $800 per tooth, with a metal alloy coming in just slightly more expensive. The most expensive material is porcelain, which can cost as much as $3000 per tooth.
Insurance will often cover a portion of this procedure, since crowns are normally fall into the category considered restorative and not cosmetic dentistry. To make sure of this we do advise you check with your particular provider.
Dental Crown Problems or Questions?
If you want to know whether you could benefit from a dental crown or to learn more about the procedure, talk to one of our Mint Dental Alaska dentists. We can help you narrow down the best treatment type for your specific situation and restore your teeth to their original shine. Set up an appointment today by calling (907) 646-8672 or by visiting our website at mintdentalak.com!