Knowing what to expect from your dental crown placement.

Dental crowns have been around a surprisingly long time, but they’ve changed a lot in that time. Even in recent decades, the materials they’re made from, the way they’re designed and milled, and in some cases, the way they’re placed on teeth have improved considerably. These changes allow for longer-lasting, more naturally beautiful crowns—which is great news if your dentist has just told you that you’re going to need a dental crown!

On the other hand, these changes might also mean that you have a lot of questions about dental crowns and what it’s like to get one. We want you to feel confident in your treatment before you receive it, so we’ve done our best to answer the most common questions people ask us about dental crowns.

Do I really need dental crowns?

This is a great question to ask—and one you should never be afraid to ask Dr. Cooley Bentz! We want you to feel confident in your treatment, and that often means understanding all of your potential treatment options as well as why Dr. Cooley Bentz has recommended that you get a dental crown.

Everyone’s case is unique, so you may need a crown for different reasons than someone else. In some situations, it’s possible to preserve more of your natural tooth structure by getting an inlay or onlay instead, but in others, a dental crown is necessary to protect your tooth from future damage. Your dentist wants what’s best for your long-term oral health, however, so if they recommend a crown, it’s likely the best option for you. If you’re unsure, though, ask Dr. Cooley Bentz why she thinks a crown is the best option for you—she can explain her reasoning to you so that you feel comfortable with your treatment.

What are the types of materials used for dental crowns?

Most modern crowns are made of porcelain because it’s durable, looks natural, and is very customizable, but porcelain isn’t your only option. You can also get a dental crown made of metal or porcelain-fused-to-metal. Each material has its own pros and cons, so it’s best to look into each one carefully before you decide what material you’d like your crown made from.

Will dental crowns look natural?

Porcelain crowns are designed specifically for you so that they fit into your smile completely naturally. When you get a porcelain crown, you get to help choose its size, shape, and shade to ensure that you’ll love the way the tooth looks and fits into your smile. Porcelain crowns even match the gloss of natural teeth, so no one will even know you have a crown! Since they’re also covered in porcelain, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns do blend in with your natural teeth as well, but the underlying metal can cause a dark gray line to appear along the edge of your gums over time. This isn’t easily noticeable on molars, so it isn’t always a big deal, but it’s a detail that you should be aware of when you’re picking a crown!

Does a crown procedure hurt?

No—thanks to modern anesthetics, the procedure to place your dental crown is completely painless! You will experience a little pain and discomfort when the anesthetics have worn off, but it’s usually very mild. People often say that it’s about equal to the discomfort you feel after receiving a dental filling, so you can easily manage it at home with over-the-counter pain medication and ice packs. Your tooth should begin to feel better just a few days after your procedure, so your discomfort won’t last long, either.

How many appointments will it take?

Generally, getting a dental crown takes two appointments at our office. During the first appointment, Dr. Cooley Bentz will prepare your tooth by treating any decay or injury that’s present, and shaping your tooth so that your dental crown will fit over it. Next, she’ll take molds of your teeth, which will be used to make your permanent crown, and secure a temporary crown over your tooth. Your permanent crown will be milled in an outside lab and then sent to our office. There are usually about two weeks between your first and second appointments, but once your permanent crown is ready you’ll return to our office so that Dr. Cooley Bentz can swap your temporary crown for your permanent one. She’ll then check your bite to make sure it fits perfectly and send you home with your new smile.

In some cases, however, modern technology has actually made it possible for us to design, mill, and place your permanent porcelain dental crown in a single visit to our office. These crowns use the same porcelain material as lab-milled porcelain crowns, so they’re just as long lasting and beautiful. If you’re curious about same day crowns and whether or not they’re an option for you, feel free to ask Dr. Cooley Bentz at any time.

Can a crowned tooth get a cavity?

The surface of your dental crown itself, which covers the portion of your tooth that’s above your gum line, can’t get cavities and works as a shield to help prevent cavities and injuries to your natural tooth. That said, it’s not foolproof—the tooth beneath your crown can still get a cavity! This can happen if the crown fails or as a result of gum disease, which is a gum infection that allows bacteria beneath the gum line to begin attacking the roots of your teeth as well as their supporting structures.

Thankfully, you can prevent this by practicing great oral hygiene, including brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using mouthwash. Visiting Dr. Cooley Bentz every six months for a dental evaluation is also essential, as she’ll be able to spot the signs of a failing dental crown early. These steps are simple and only require a little bit of time investment, but they protect your crowned tooth and your oral health as a whole in the long run.

How long do dental crowns last?

The lifespan of your dental crown depends upon a few factors, including what material it’s made of and how well you care for it using a thorough oral hygiene routine. Porcelain and porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns can last 15 years or more with proper care, while metal crowns have the potential to last 20 years or more. Despite the longer potential lifespan of metal crowns, their temperature sensitivity causes them to expand and contract repeatedly in response to what you eat and drink. This makes them more prone to failing or cracking over time, so it’s important to keep an eye on them through regular dental appointments.

Will my crown be covered by dental insurance?

When a dental crown is deemed medically necessary, such as to restore a severely damaged tooth, most dental insurance companies will cover at least part of your treatment. How much your insurance will cover depends heavily upon your individual dental insurance company and plan. We do our best to ensure that we offer affordable dental solutions, including for our dental crowns. We believe that no one should have to forego treatment because they can’t afford it. As a result, when you discuss your treatment plan with Dr. Cooley Bentz, our office can also provide an estimate of your treatment’s cost as well as how much of it your dental insurance is likely to cover.

Dental crowns are an incredibly common and effective treatment that can do far more than restoring and protecting a tooth’s appearance, function, and health—they can actively save your tooth. That said, it’s natural to want to ask questions! Understanding why you need a dental crown and knowing what to expect from your treatment can help you feel more confident before your procedure. If you have any lingering questions about dental crowns or your unique case, feel free to call and schedule a consultation with Dr. Cooley Bentz at any time.