How Long Do Dental Crowns Last?
For damaged, misaligned, or discolored teeth, dental crowns can be an effective means of restoring functionality and appearance that have been used for several decades. When determining how long the crown can be expected to last, there are several factors that patients must consider when choosing what type of crown to use and if a crown is suitable for their needs at all.
One of the primary contributing factors to crown longevity is the material used in the crown. There are four types of crown material available today: gold alloys, base metal alloys (zirconia), all-ceramic, and porcelain-fused to metal (PFM). Gold alloys, made of a combination of nickel, copper, or chromium, have been used in dentistry for decades and are renowned for their strength and durability. With proper care, gold crowns can last several decades and, in some cases, over 50 years. Because of the aesthetics of gold crowns, they are primarily used on a patient’s back permanent teeth (molars and premolars). PFM and zirconia crowns have a similar life expectancy to gold as the materials used are very durable. Ceramic crowns are made of porcelain and because they more closely match the natural color of the tooth, are predominantly used on the front teeth. Because porcelain is prone to chipping, which metal crowns are not, they are not as durable. Patients using porcelain crowns can typically expect a functional longevity of about 20 years.
The life expectancy of a crown is also impacted by the condition of the tooth (or teeth) that is being capped by the crown. If a tooth is severely decayed or damaged, it may not be able to hold onto a crown very long. In extreme cases, the tooth may not be suitable for a crown at all and could necessitate that a dental procedure besides a crown be used to restore it.
How well a crown is manufactured and installed can also contribute to how long it will last. Should the dentist not properly fit the crown, it is likely that the crown will come loose after only a few months after placement. Poor fitting crowns are often a byproduct of poor manufacturing so if a patient has been dissatisfied with the crown the dentist previously used, finding a dentist that uses a different manufacturer is advisable.
Finally, the longevity of a crown is greatly influenced by what the patient does. Because a crown sits on top of the patient’s natural tooth, it is vital that a thorough dental hygiene regimen is practiced to ensure overall oral health. Flossing daily, brushing twice a day, and using an antibiotic mouthwash, will ensure that the natural tooth under the crown remains healthy and free of decay. What a patient eats will also be a determining factor in crown life. Eating hard or sticky foods like candy, can cause the crown to break or come off sooner than expected. Habits like clenching or grinding the teeth can have the same effect. For patients that grind their teeth at night, using a mouth guard when sleeping can be beneficial to preventing damage to the crown.
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