How Long Does a Dental Crown Last?
Dental crowns are a popular solution for restoring damaged teeth. But, how long does a dental crown last? A crown isn’t expected to last a lifetime and usually need to be replaced after around 5-15 years. That being said, it’s not uncommon for dental crowns to last for up to 20 years, as durability depends on different factors.
Dental crowns are not a new treatment. Accessorising our teeth — especially with gold crowns — has around 4,000 years of history. But, while once used to signify wealth and beauty, dental crowns now offer a more practical solution to restoring the health and stability of your mouth.
Answering the question “how long does a dental crown last?” though, can be tricky. There’s no definitive answer to this, as durability varies based on different factors.
What Are Dental Crowns?
Dental crowns are prosthetic caps that sit on top of a damaged tooth. Usually made from metal or ceramic, crowns are fitted to improve the appearance of damaged or decayed teeth. They’re also commonly fitted to cover a dental implant.
The type of crown that you choose will depend on your reason for having them fitted, which teeth they’re covering, pre-op advice from your dentist, and your budget. Ceramic-metal crowns, for example, offer a nice balance between aesthetics and durability, with the metal providing strength and the ceramic material giving them a natural-looking appearance.
How Long Does a Dental Crown Last?
You can expect your crowns to last between 5-15 years. This isn’t a fixed rule though, with many patients having dental crowns that last for more than 20 years. While there’s no definitive answer to the question “how long should a crown last?”, they’re certainly not considered permanent and will need to be replaced.
Dental Crown Types and Durability
Many dentists may offer a guarantee that your crowns will last a minimum number of years, but this will vary depending on different factors, most notably, the type of dental crown you choose.
How Long Does a Zirconia Dental Crown Last?
Often referred to as ceramic crowns, zirconia dental crowns offer a natural-looking appearance and great durability. Made from what’s known as zirconium dioxide, zirconia crowns are less prone to splitting or cracking, compared to other ceramic options.
You can expect a zirconia crown to last between 10-15 years, provided that you maintain good oral hygiene.
How Long Does a Metal Dental Crown Last?
Commonly made from gold, metal dental crowns are used to restore hidden molars at the back of your mouth. They’re strong and durable and provide a lot more resistance to breakages than their ceramic or porcelain-fused counterparts. A 2015 study found gold crowns to have a 96% survival rate over 10 years, 87% over 20 years, and 74% over 30 years.
How Long Does a Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Dental Crown Last?
Porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns are one of the most popular options. To create these, a specialised type of ceramic — porcelain — is either fused with metal or fused with gold. This offers a balance between appearance and durability.
PFM crowns usually last around 5-15 years, depending on your dental hygiene routine.
How Long Does a Temporary Crown Last?
Temporary dental crowns are often used as placeholders until a longer-lasting solution can be fitted. Usually made from either acrylic or stainless steel, you should only have your temporary crowns fitted for a short time until your permanent ones are ready.
What Other Factors Affect How Long a Dental Crown Lasts?
As well as material, there are some other important factors to consider when trying to answer the question “how long does a dental crown last?”
The health of the treated tooth: Crowns that are fitted to cover teeth that have reasonably healthy surrounding gum tissue and bone density are more likely to last longer than those covering significantly damaged teeth.
Your dental hygiene routine: Ensure that you’re always brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice per day. Plaque build-up between the gum line and the crown is common so pay particular attention to this area to keep both your existing teeth and your crown in good condition.
How often you visit your dentist: Regular check-ups — every six months — are a key part of the aftercare process and will help to maintain the lifespan of your crowns. During these, your dentist will make sure that your crowns are causing you any issues and provide you with information on how to best look after them.
Whether you grind or clench your teeth: Teeth grinding can have a big effect on how long your crowns last. Clenching or grinding your teeth, especially while you’re asleep, can gradually wear away the surface of your crown, making them more unstable over time.
How Will I Know When My Dental Crowns Need to Be Replaced?
Assessing whether a dental crown has reached the end of its lifespan is often judged by dentists carrying out an X-ray or CT scan. But, there are a few signs that you can look out for which may suggest that it’s time to replace your crowns.
Pain, tenderness, or swelling around the crown: Although crowns completely cover natural teeth, this doesn’t prevent the existing teeth from decaying. If you begin to notice some pain, swelling, or tenderness around the tooth and crown, this can be a sign of decay. In these cases, your dentist may suggest removing the crown to tackle the decay underneath, before creating and fitting a new crown.
A crown that seems unstable: If you have a feeling that your crown is moving or isn’t as fixed as it once was, then it may be a sign that it needs replacing. Eating sticky or chewy foods can damage and dislodge crowns which will often result in having to have them replaced.
Visible damage to the crown: Chewing on hard foods or using your teeth as tools — to open packaging for example — can cause a crown to break or chip. Depending on the severity of the damage, your dentist may be able to repair the crown without having to completely replace it.
Dental Crowns Alternative: Do Veneers Offer a Longer-Lasting Solution?
Like crowns, veneers are a popular dental restoration method. Although prices for veneers are usually cheaper than crowns, they tend not to be as durable. Composite veneers, for example, offer a cost-effective solution but usually need to be replaced after around 5-10 years.
Depending on your situation, veneers may not be a suitable alternative to dental crowns. While a crown covers an entire tooth, veneers only cover the front part of your tooth. Crowns, therefore, are more effective at protecting a tooth from decay than veneers.
How Do I Get Started?
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