All About Tooth Crowns!

Tooth Crowns

Maintaining a dental hygiene routine and check-ups with your dentist twice a year is essential to keeping your teeth healthy! However, sometimes a swish of the toothbrush is not enough. In certain cases, your dentist may recommend a tooth crown. A crown? In your mouth? This may sound overwhelming, but a crown, much like it would be placed on top of a king’s head in a fairytale, is a tooth-shaped cap that is placed on top of your original tooth to fully encase it. This can be used to improve strength, function, and appearance, and to restore tooth shape and size. No jewels or diamonds included on this crown, but at least you’ll have a flashy new smile!

What are tooth crowns used for?

Tooth crowns are a fixed prosthetic device: meaning, they are cemented to your teeth and can only be removed by a dental professional. Tooth Crowns can be made of out of a few different materials, similar to fillings. A tooth crown may be used for situations such as the following:

  • When there is a large filling or deep cavity on a weak tooth
  • To restore a broken tooth.
  • To support or cover a weak tooth.
  • Attach or maintain a dental bridge (when there is a gap or a tooth missing).
  • To make a cosmetic modification, such as cover misshaped or discolored teeth.
  • To provide protection over a dental implant (replacement tooth roots).
  • Save highly damaged baby teeth or protect baby teeth at high risk for decay in children.

How do tooth crowns work?

The process to getting a tooth crown begins with the dentist inspecting the area where the crown will be going. This may require X-Rays, so that the dentist may ensure that the teeth roots and surrounding bone are healthy and prepared for a crown. Next, the dentist must reduce the size of the tooth or teeth, so that a crown may fit over it. Then, the dentist will create an impression for the new crown. Depending on the material that your dentist recommends for the crown, it will most likely be created in a laboratory.

While the permanent crown is being created in a laboratory, the dentist will put a temporary crown in place to protect the prepared tooth. When the crown is ready, the temporary crown will be taken out and the permanent crown will be cemented on top of the original tooth.
Depending on the upkeep of a dental hygiene routine, the fit and material of the tooth crown, it may last up to 15 years, or even a lifetime.

What is tooth crown sensitivity?

If you have gone through the process of getting tooth crowns, than you know the benefits that they can bring to your smile! However, sometimes people can experience higher levels of sensitivity. Sensitivity is more likely to happen with newer crowns, however, people with older existing crowns can also experience this. ‘Sensitivity’ means your tooth is more easily affected by certain stimuli which can cause you to feel discomfort or pain. This can occur from: hot and cold beverages or food, or from air when you breathe in through your mouth.

Pain will usually be mild to moderate and is usually felt at the edge of the crown, closer to the gum line. Sensitivity will not worsen, but will repeat with the stimuli listed above.

What causes tooth crown sensitivity?

Before permanent crowns can be installed, your dentist must first reduce the size of your original tooth so that a cap may fit on top of it. In this process, the enamel, or protective covering of your tooth, can often be worn away, exposing the tooth’s dentin, the bone-like tissue that makes up the inside of your tooth. This is normal, and does not cause an issue because it will be covered by the new crown. But, if for some reason the dentin is not completely covered by the new crown, the patient will experience sensitivity. Often times, the exposed dentin is so small it can not even be seen.

In patients with older crowns, exposed dentin may mean that the gums have receded since the crown was first put in place.

How can tooth crown sensitivity be treated?

Exposed dentin is the most common cause for tooth crown sensitivity, and is easily fixed. Toothpastes and mouthwashes made for people with sensitive teeth often include the active ingredient ‘potassium nitrate’ which can help to diminish sensitivity. Or, dentists can apply a solution to desensitize and cover the exposed dentin.

What happens if a tooth crown falls out?

Crowns falling out are not a dire emergency, however, you should schedule time sooner rather than later with your dentist to have it fixed. The original tooth underneath the crown was probably damaged or weak in the first place, and in order to fit under a crown was most likely reduced to dentin, the bone-like tissue that makes up the inside of your tooth. Having exposed original tooth’s dentin in your mouth is likely to create high sensitivity and pain.

Leaving the original tooth exposed will create more damage over time, and may allow teeth to shift into the space where the crown was. If this happens, the crown may no longer fit. So, it is important to have the crown re-installed quickly.

What can you do if a tooth crown falls out?

  • First, be sure to get the crown out of your mouth, before you swallow or breathe it in.
  • Call your dentist and try to set up an appointment for as soon as possible.
  • Examine the original tooth to see if the original crown will still be usable. This may be difficult to distinguish and can be determined by your dentist.
  • Use over-the-counter pain management drugs as directed by your doctor.
  • Dab clove oil onto a cotton swab and apply to the sensitive area for pain relief. Clove oil is available at most drugstores and in the spice aisle at grocery stores.
  • Stay away from hard or sticky foods until you can have your crown permanently re-attached by your dentist.
  • Ask your dentist if they would advise you to buy temporary cement from the drugstore to temporarily re-attach the crown until you can meet with them.
  • Drugstores carry temporary cement made for crowns. Be sure to clean both the original tooth and crown before using temporary cement.
  • Temporary cement will not be able to glue the crown back on permanently. If the crown is left for long periods of time without being permanently reattached, the original tooth could become infected and have to be extracted.

How will your dentist fix a tooth crown if it falls out?

It is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible if your crown falls off for multiple reasons. The level of decay of the original tooth will determine if the crown will still fit. If not, your dentist will lead you through the process of getting another crown re-fit. Your dentist will be able to lead you to a solution with a secure crown and healthy teeth.

Is your tooth crown damaged or has fallen off? Let us help you find a solution! Schedule an appointment with Delicate Smiles Dental today or call us at 303-340-3330