At our Corpus Christi dental office, we want to help you protect your teeth by whatever means necessary. For smaller cavities, dental fillings are often the best method of treatment. But when a tooth has been severely weakened by decay or other damage, dental crowns may be necessary to restore the tooth’s health and functionality. Because a crown is built to withstand the same forces and pressures as natural enamel, it can go many years without needing to be fixed or replaced. However, the exact lifespan of a crown depends on the steps a patient takes to care for it. With correct hygiene habits and preventative measures, your dental crowns can keep your teeth healthy and your smile bright for decades. To make the most of your restorations, learn what can cause them damage as well as how to prevent it.
Damage from Decay
Once a tooth has been crowned, some patients may falsely assume that the tooth is invariably protected against future decay. And while it’s true that a dental crown itself cannot form decay, the underlying tooth is still susceptible to new cavities, especially if hygiene is continually neglected. If recurrent decay does form within the tooth after a crown has been placed, that crown will have to be destroyed in the process for restorative treatment. More importantly, a crowned tooth is already weak from prior damage and may not be able to withstand any additional treatment; if decay forms, it may require the tooth to be extracted and replaced entirely.
Damage from Injury
A crown is designed to endure stress from regular biting and chewing habits, but any sudden trauma to a crown can result in permanent damage. If a person falls or injures one’s mouth in an accident, the impact could cause a crown to chip or crack. Obviously, such an incident would pose a threat to natural teeth as well, but once a crown suffers significant damage, it is not as easily fixed as a tooth and usually warrants replacement.
Physical damage is not something we typically worry about, since no one plans to get in an accident or become injured. However, some people are simply more prone to injury due to their lifestyles and everyday activities. Those who play contact sports, for instance, have a much higher chance of receiving a blow to the mouth or teeth, and should take the proper precautions before engaging in such activity.
Damage from Improper Use
Some people have a bad habit of using their teeth for reasons other than eating. For example, some people may hold onto objects with their teeth if their hands are full, or may use their teeth as tools to grip or loosen something. This can be particularly bad for dental crowns, as the unnatural stress may cause them to bend and therefore chip.
Alternatively, unconscious habits or nervous tics may result in someone chewing on a non-edible object, such as fingernails. These habits should be similarly discouraged, as they may also chip crowns or at least result in their hastened wear.
Damage from Bruxism
Bruxism is a condition in which a person habitually grinds and clenches his or her or teeth, usually during sleep. In milder cases, this may result in the gradual wear of teeth and restorations. More severe cases can chip teeth and crowns, lead to headaches and jaw pain, and interfere with sleeping habits. Bruxism is especially dangerous for porcelain restorations, which are not always able to withstand that constant pressure of grinding throughout the night
How to Protect Your Crowns
Once you understand the risk factors that pose a threat to your dental crowns, you can take the right steps toward protecting them:
- Positive hygiene habits: Brush at least twice a day and floss daily in order to keep your teeth healthy and free of decay. It is doubly important to be take vigilant hygienic care of your dental crowns, as those teeth cannot afford any additional disease or decay.
- Only use your teeth for food: Avoid using your teeth as tools or to chew on non-edible items. If it’s not food, it can damage a porcelain restoration.
- Consider a mouth guard: If you play a sport, suffer from bruxism, or are greater risk of injury for any reason, consider getting a customized professional mouth guard. By protecting your teeth from outside trauma and each other, you can extend the potential lifespan of your crowns.
Want to Know More?
Speak with one of our dental professionals to learn more about dental crowns and their aftercare. Contact us to ask a question or set up your next appointment.