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Porcelain Dental Crowns

If one or more of your teeth has been damaged or otherwise weakened, dental crowns may offer a simple and effective treatment to restore a healthy tooth! Versatile in usage, a dental crown is commonly placed to strengthen a tooth that has been affected by decay, or to anchor a dental bridge during treatment to replace a missing tooth. These restorations can feel like a natural part of your mouth and — unlike the metal crowns utilized in the past — they often appear indistinguishably among your surrounding teeth. Thanks to the resemblance of dental porcelain to natural tooth enamel, crowns from our cosmetic dentist can offer aesthetic benefits in addition to improving biting function.

What are Dental Crowns?

A dental crown is a custom-fitted restoration placed on top of a compromised tooth to strengthen it and protect the enamel from further damage. A crown is frequently utilized when tooth decay is too extensive to be corrected with a tooth-colored filling, but not severe enough to warrant an extraction or root canal. Crowns can also be used for a number of other reasons, some of which are listed below. While the different types of dental crowns can vary, Scripps Center for Dental Care places all-porcelain crowns due to their durability and aesthetic similarity to natural teeth. This not only eliminates the cosmetic disadvantages of metal crowns, but can also help avoid other issues associated with metallic material, such as potential allergy concerns and sensitivity to temperature changes.

What are the Benefits of Dental Crowns?

Our porcelain ceramic crowns offer decayed or weakened teeth the strength, beauty, and support necessary to keep the tooth from worsening to the point of extraction. Common uses for a porcelain crown include:

  • To restore a tooth that has deteriorated from decay or multiple cavities
  • To top a dental implant for a complete tooth replacement
  • To strengthen and protect a tooth after a root canal
  • To secure a dental bridge

Porcelain crowns can also improve your ability to bite in addition to ensuring your treated tooth remains undetectable within your smile. The results often outlast the outcomes achieved with other restorations, such as dental bonding, resulting in support that endures well into the future.

Is a Porcelain Crown Right for Me?

You may benefit from a porcelain crown if the damage to your tooth (or teeth) is too extensive to be treated with a filling or cosmetic bonding. During treatment, only a small amount of tooth preparation is necessary to accommodate your crown; therefore, porcelain crowns can be a good restoration for patients who seek a minimally invasive solution to their concerns. You may consider a dental crown if your smile is affected by:

  • Broken teeth or cracks in the enamel
  • Large or unsightly fillings
  • Severe decay
  • Diseased or infected tissue, necessitating root canal therapy
  • Empty spaces caused by missing teeth

Porcelain crowns are long-lasting and help reinforce a damaged tooth against further harm. Crowns are also used in conjunction with treatments to replace missing teeth or heal a tooth infection. Our dentists will examine your concerns and speak with you about your goals to confirm whether a dental crown is the ideal restoration for your unique needs. Since dental crowns can be a good solution for a wide range of dental issues, they’re often placed as part of a full mouth rehabilitation or in cases of a smile makeover.

Dental Crowns vs. Dental Veneers

Porcelain crowns and porcelain veneers are both options that can restore the integrity of an imperfect tooth; however, the main difference between the two treatment options has to do with the nature of your dental concerns. Crowns are utilized to address functional issues, such as difficulty biting, tooth sensitivity, or pain resulting from a damaged or decayed tooth. Porcelain veneers, on the other hand, are placed to conceal cosmetic flaws that may hamper your smile but do not otherwise cause any functional or occlusion (biting) problems. Veneers are also bonded to the front of your tooth while crowns are placed on top of the chewing surfaces. Lastly, porcelain veneers are typically placed to enhance the front of the teeth while dental crowns are often attached to the molars. 

Despite their differences, crowns and veneers are both personally designed and crafted to look natural in your mouth and fit comfortably among your surrounding teeth. At our practice in San Diego, these treatment options are manufactured out of durable dental porcelain to not only last longer, but also to more closely resemble the aesthetics of natural enamel. 

Types of Dental Crowns

Our multidisciplinary dental team places all-porcelain crowns due to certain advantages over other restorative materials, including metal amalgam and porcelain-fused-to-metal. Generally speaking, there are many different types of dental crowns used in dentistry, including:

  • Metal: In the past, crowns were frequently composed of metals such as nickel and palladium. While extremely durable, metal crowns were often considered cosmetically displeasing and didn’t blend in well with a patient’s smile. 
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal: This type of dental crown retains a metal core while the porcelain exterior can allow the restoration to look more natural than an all-metal crown. However, it’s possible for the porcelain to chip away and expose the metal underneath, sometimes creating a cosmetic concern. It’s also not uncommon for a dark line to develop, demarcating the porcelain cap from the metal core.
  • Composite resin: Composite dental crowns can be more affordable than other types of restorations, but the longevity of an all-resin crown is typically much shorter than a porcelain crown. Composite material can also suffer more wear-and-tear when compared to dental porcelain and metal.  

Through their decades of combined experience, our team has found that porcelain crowns can be the best option for a wide range of patients. In most cases, using porcelain restorations reduces the risk of certain complications from developing, such as increased tooth sensitivity and allergy concerns. 

How is the Dental Crown Procedure Performed?

Our porcelain crowns are custom-designed to fit perfectly over the affected tooth using digital dental scans of your teeth and mouth—this is an upgrade from traditional impressions that would often require messy pastes or putties. The scans are then used to create an accurate, high-quality restoration tailored to fit inside your mouth. A minimal amount of enamel is then removed before the crown is bonded to help achieve a natural, comfortable fit. After your crown is placed, it generally requires no other maintenance besides the daily brushing and flossing necessary to keep your natural teeth clean.

Do Dental Crowns Require a Recovery Period?

Although some swelling, tenderness, and sensitivity after getting a dental crown is common, treatment typically does not require any downtime from normal activities. That said, you may be advised to temporarily follow special aftercare instructions after the procedure in order to avoid disturbing your restoration. Sensitivity in the gums is to be expected and can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medications. It may also be helpful to use toothpastes and rinses designed to curb tooth sensitivity, such as Sensodyne® products.

In general, patients can eat as they normally would but should avoid hard, chewy, or sticky foods for a few days after their treatment. We also advise chewing on the opposite side of the mouth after your crown is first placed to avoid accidentally dislodging the crown.

How Long Do Dental Crowns Last?

A porcelain crown can be very long-lasting, with many crowns remaining in good condition even after five to seven years. In general, the best way to help ensure your crown endures for as long as possible is to take good care of your teeth. Decay, plaque, and poor oral hygiene typically affect restorations in much of the same way as your teeth and gums—without the proper maintenance, the longevity of your crown can be reduced, just like a natural tooth. For this reason, routine oral hygiene practices like brushing, flossing, and keeping up with your semi-annual dental appointments are key to maximizing the lifespan of your crown(s).

How Much Do Dental Crowns Cost?

The cost of an all-porcelain dental crown typically costs between $1,500 to $2,500 per tooth or more depending on your unique treatment plan. The price often depends on the type of crown placed, the location of the treated tooth, and how the crown was manufactured (in a dental lab or with an in-office milling machine). We cannot accurately determine the estimated cost of your dental crown without assessing your needs, but rest assured that our office will be able to provide you with a personalized quote after you visit our practice for an initial consultation. At Scripps, we accept dental financing plans from CareCredit® and Lending Club® to make it easier for qualified patients to receive treatment while alleviating any budgetary concerns. If you have any questions regarding dental crowns or the cost of our restorations, please don’t hesitate to call (858) 535-8300 to speak with a member of our team.

Are There Alternatives to Dental Crowns?

Although they can serve as beautiful restorations alone, dental crowns are commonly incorporated into more extensive treatments like a smile makeover or full mouth rehabilitation. These dental plans can be helpful for patients who have more than one problem they would like to address — whether the goal is to renew their smile or repair damage and functional issues. At Scripps Center for Dental Care, our practice essentially offers a “one-stop shop” for individuals to resolve all of their concerns at once. Rather than refer certain procedures out to external providers, our comprehensive team consists of doctors who are each at the top of their field within their respective dental specialties. This allows an unbroken continuum of multi-specialty dental care for each patient, allowing them to receive the highest standards of results and expertise during each stage of their treatment plan.

Do Dental Crowns Hurt?

While your tooth may feel sensitive or sore immediately after getting a dental crown, these restorations should begin to feel like a natural part of your mouth once the area is fully healed. Patients typically describe mild discomfort during treatment, if any, rather than pain. However, our team understands that each person has a unique pain threshold and provides sedation dentistry options for individuals with anxiety about their dental treatment. These techniques can be employed at the same time as your treatment and often offer a stress-free experience while the crown is placed. We believe no patient should sacrifice necessary dental care due to apprehension about possible pain, so we encourage you to discuss your needs and concerns with our compassionate dental team so we can try to make your visit as comfortable and relaxing as possible.

Additional Dental Crowns FAQs

Can you get dental crowns on your front teeth?

Yes, dental crowns can be placed on the front teeth if necessary. Although crowns are more commonly bonded to the molars, or the teeth located in the back of the mouth, these restorations can be just as effective in protecting and reinforcing front-facing teeth. Other restorative dentistry options that may be used to repair the front teeth include dental bonding and porcelain veneers. Our skilled team of cosmetic and restorative dentists will evaluate your concerns and your smile to develop the most ideal treatment plan for your individual needs.

Will I be able to eat normally after getting a dental crown?

Your dentist will make you aware of aftercare instructions following the dental crown procedure. While there is no extensive recovery time necessary, your teeth may be swollen or tender for a few days after treatment.

There is a short period of time in which your tooth will be shielded by a temporary crown made of a type of plastic used to protect the tooth while your permanent crown is fabricated by our outside dental lab. During this time, we advise you to avoid hard and chewy foods. Once the final crown is ready, the temporary crown is removed and the final crown is bonded to the tooth. Patients may want to stick to a soft-food diet immediately after getting their dental crown(s).

What’s the difference between a crown and an inlay/onlay?

Inlays and onlays are generally considered a kind of “partial” crown — they can also be utilized to repair moderate-level decay, but only cover a portion of the tooth rather than the entire structure. Inlays and onlays can help rebuild areas of damage that are too extensive to be addressed with a filling alone, but not severe enough to warrant a dental crown. In general, dental crowns are placed when a tooth is especially weak, damaged, or deteriorated due to decay buildup.

Does a dental crown look natural?

Thanks to advances in modern dentistry, a dental crown can look indistinguishable from your natural, healthy teeth. Our practice offers state-of-the-art dental porcelain to fabricate dental crowns, which resemble the translucency and sheen of your natural enamel. We also provide composite tooth-colored dental crowns as a more affordable alternative to porcelain crowns.

Can I update my old metal crowns?

Yes! It’s possible to replace unsightly metal crowns with more realistic, tooth-colored restorations at our La Jolla practice. Using dental porcelain or a composite resin material, our team can craft a new custom-designed dental crown that blends in seamlessly with your smile. Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist about the process of upgrading your metal crowns with more cosmetic solutions.

Have additional questions?

Our dental team can fabricate an optimal restoration to repair your teeth and restore a healthier smile. Please contact Scripps Center for Dental Care today to schedule a personal or virtual consultation with one of our dentists.

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