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How long do dental crowns last?

Discover why dental crowns are a popular choice for restoring dental health, and learn what impacts their longevity.

When we talk about enhancing our smiles for both aesthetic and health reasons, dental crowns often come into the conversation as a key player. These restorative pieces do far more than just improve the visual attractiveness of our smiles. They also play a pivotal role in the overall preservation of our dental health. Given the variety of materials available for dental crowns—including porcelain, ceramic, gold and other metals—it’s helpful to understand not only their aesthetic benefits but also their functionality and longevity.

It’s important to remember the durability of dental crowns isn’t set in stone. Giving them a little TLC through proper maintenance and not skipping those dental check-ups can seriously extend their lifespan. A little attention to them now can save you a lot of hassle later.

So, whether you're leaning towards porcelain, ceramic or even gold (fancy, right?), it's important to know that these crowns have a certain lifespan. But here's the kicker – how long they last also depends a lot on how we take care of them. Let's explore together how long you can expect different types of crowns to last and how certain habits might influence their longevity.

Text states "Porcelain & ceramic crowns last 5 to 15 years," with the numbers "5" and "15" prominently displayed, separated by a tooth icon.

Breaking down how long temporary crowns last

Dental crowns aren't always a one-size-fits-all solution and different kinds of materials have varying longevities. Metal crowns, for example gold crowns, potentially last decades with the right care, however, they do not match the natural color of teeth. Porcelain crowns, celebrated for their natural appearance, typically grace our smiles for about 5 to 15 years. Ceramic options share a similar timeline.

A whopping 98% of Aspen Dental dentists are big fans of crowns made from ceramic zirconia. These crowns not only ensure a lasting smile but also stand out for their exceptional quality and durability. Zirconia, a type of ceramic, is known for its strength, resistance to wear and tear, and its ability to mimic the natural appearance of teeth, making it a top choice for those seeking both aesthetics and longevity in dental restorations.

Speaking of care, certain habits can prematurely age your crown. Crunching on ice or biting nails? Not friends with your crowns. On the flip side, maintaining rigorous oral hygiene and regular check-ups can add years to their life.

Illustration of teeth in circles highlighting various reasons for getting a dental crown: broken tooth, tooth decay, root canal, cosmetic enhancement, and completion for bridges/implants.

Why people get dental crowns

The reasons behind opting for dental crowns are as varied as the individuals seeking them. Here's a quick look:

To restore a broken tooth:

Life is full of unexpected moments, including accidents that can leave us with a damaged smile. Whether it's a sports injury, a fall or biting down on something hard, dental crowns come to the rescue as a restorative solution. They not only save the day but also restore your smile to its former glory. Accidents happen, and crowns are here to save the day (and your smile).

Decay has taken its toll:

When a filling won't cut it, a crown steps in to cover and protect. Tooth decay is a common issue that, if left unchecked, can wreak havoc on our oral health. When a cavity becomes too large for a standard dental filling to be effective, a dental crown is often the next line of defense. It covers the damaged area completely, offering a shield against further damage and restoring the tooth's function.

After root canal therapy:

A root canal treatment can save a tooth from extraction but often leaves the tooth weakened. To ensure the longevity of the tooth post-treatment, a dental crown is usually recommended. It adds the necessary strength and protection, allowing the tooth to function normally while diminishing the risk.

Cosmetic enhancement:

Beyond the functional benefits, dental crowns also offer a cosmetic solution for those looking for a smile transformation. Whether it's correcting the shape, color, size or alignment of a tooth, crowns can provide a natural-looking aesthetic boost, leading to that picture-perfect smile many desire.

Finishing touch for bridges and implants:

Dental crowns, when used alongside dental bridges, not only fill gaps but also serve as components in covering dental implants, ensuring a seamless and natural-looking smile, adding that finishing touch to your bright smile.

Alternative treatments for dental crowns

Dental crowns are often considered a go-to solution for improving the appearance of one's smile, but they are not the only option available. Veneers present an alternative that is less invasive, ideal for correcting cosmetic issues such as chips, cracks or discoloration, by applying a thin layer of porcelain or composite material over the natural tooth. On the other hand, dental implants offer a durable, long-lasting solution for those missing one or more teeth. Unlike dentures or dental bridges, dental implants are anchored directly into the jawbone, providing a stable and strong foundation for artificial teeth that look, feel and function like natural teeth. Whether seeking to enhance the cosmetic appeal of your smile or address more significant dental issues, exploring the range of options beyond dental crowns can lead to more personalized and satisfying outcomes.

Side-by-side image showing a person getting dental veneers on the left and a dental implant illustration on the right.

Maintaining your dental crowns

Do crowns require special care?

While it might not seem extraordinary, consistency is key to dental health. Regularly brushing your teeth twice a day, ensuring you floss daily to remove plaque and food particles that your toothbrush can't reach, and scheduling regular dental check-ups to catch any potential issues early on, are all crucial practices. These habits are the best friends of your dental crowns, helping to maintain their integrity and appearance for years to come.

Are there any restrictions on eating with dental crowns?

Initially, yes. It's wise to avoid sticky and hard foods until your dentist gives you the all-clear. In the long term, paying attention to your diet is key. A balanced diet not only supports your overall health but also contributes significantly to the longevity and durability of your dental crown. Avoiding sugar, alcohol and smoking will help keep your teeth and crowns from staining and yellowing and keep your oral and overall health optimized. Ensuring you get a mix of nutrients will help maintain the crown and the health of the surrounding teeth.

Can you get a cavity or experience gum disease under a crown?

Yes, the tooth under your crown can still be susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease. This vulnerability underscores the importance of preventive measures, such as regular oral hygiene practices and routine dental check-ups, to ensure the underlying tooth stays healthy and free from tooth decay. Prevention is key.

How often should crowns be replaced?

It varies, but on average, crowns can serve you well for 5 to 15 years. It largely depends on the material used and how well they are cared for. If you're thinking it might be time for a little crown check-up or a replacement, we’re here for you at Aspen Dental. We will help you find the best solution for you and your smile.

What should you do if a crown shifts or breaks? 

Contact your dentist immediately. Taking swift action can significantly reduce the risk of further damage or complications, ensuring your oral health is preserved. Don't hesitate to seek professional advice to address your concerns promptly.

What happens if your gums around the crown start receding? 

Gum recession occurs when the gum tissue surrounding the teeth wears away or pulls back, exposing more of the tooth or the tooth's root. This exposure can lead to the base of the crown or the root of the tooth becoming vulnerable, potentially resulting in increased sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks or even leading to tooth decay due to the exposed areas being more susceptible to bacteria buildup. To prevent further damage and address any issues early on, consulting with your dentist is crucial. They can offer treatments and advice on how to protect your oral health.

What happens to crowns as you age? 

Just as with the rest of your body, dental crowns are not immune to wear and tear over time. They can become worn down, chipped or even loosened, depending on various factors such as diet, oral habits and the quality of the material used. To ensure these vital restorations maintain their integrity and functionality, regular dental visits are important. These check-ups allow your dentist to closely monitor the condition of your crowns, making it possible to address any issues before they become major concerns.

A woman with curly hair, wearing a light blue shirt, smiles at the camera while standing outdoors with greenery, and a white smile illustration in the background.

Your smile, your crowning glory

Understanding the lifespan of your crown, influenced by material choice and personal habits, alongside recognizing the integral role they play in conjunction with other dental procedures, empowers you to make informed decisions about your oral health. As we've explored, the journey to a lasting and beautiful smile involves more than just the crown itself; it's about how crowns work in harmony with the entire dental ecosystem to enhance and protect your oral health and your smile.

As you consider or maintain your dental crowns, remember that they are more than just a treatment—they are an investment in your health, appearance and well-being. With the right care, this investment can support a radiant, functional smile for many years to come. Whether you're contemplating the idea of getting a dental crown or seeking advice on how to care for one you already have, our skilled dentists are dedicated to guiding you through every step of the process.  Don't hesitate to schedule your appointment with us today. Let's ensure your smile is your crowning glory.

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