If you’re wondering how long the dental crown(s) you have or are about to get will last, you’re not alone. Orthodontists and dental surgeons say it’s one of the most common questions they get from people undergoing or thinking about the procedure.
The good news is that dental crowns can last a very long time. Even a basic porcelain crown can last over a decade with good maintenance. Unfortunately, though, the dental crown may also be gone within as little as two years, depending on various factors.
We’ll find out more shortly and even discuss steps you can take to prolong the life of your dental crown. First, though, a definition.
What are Dental Crowns?
A dental crown is a cover designed for damaged teeth. Its primary function is to restore the shape, size, and function of the damaged.
Don’t confuse it with implants, bridges, and dentures. The latter three are also designed to replace missing teeth, whereas crowns are purposely designed to improve the aesthetics and function of existing but damaged teeth.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), a crown can help strengthen an existing tooth and stop further tooth degradation. Most dentists use it as a solution to;
- Restore broken or cracked teeth
- Attach dental bridges
- Protect weak teeth from breaking
- Protect fragile teeth following root canal
Average Lifespan of Dental Crowns
Available research findings show that nearly all dental crowns can last 10+ years with good care. In one study, 97% of 2,340 crowns installed by specialists lasted 10+ years. Indeed, the majority (87%) lasted 25+ years. This shows that you can look forward to a long life with your dental crowns with proper care.
But, crowns can also fracture, wear out, and come off for one reason or the other. The study above found that about 3% of crowns are gone after 10 years, while 15% need replacement within 25 years.
The longevity of a dental crown often depends on the type of crown, location of the tooth, the quality of installation, and how well you care for it.
Type/Material of the Crown
Dental crowns are typically made from one of four materials, i.e., Zirconia, porcelain, lithium disilicate, and gold.
- Zirconia crowns
Zirconia is a type of ceramic. It’s made from zirconium dioxide, a very strong and durable material related to titanium. It’s considered the strongest non-metallic crown material. In standard conditions, the crowns last 10-15 years. Some can last longer. Unfortunately, zirconia crowns don’t usually fit as well as other crowns.
- Porcelain crowns
Porcelain-fixed-to-metal (PFM) crowns are the most popular form of dental crown and also the most natural-looking. They are also the most likely solution your dentist will prescribe, especially for the front teeth. The only downside is that they are prone to chipping. Also, the metal root may begin to show as you age and the gums recede. Still, metal-supported crowns can last 5-15 years, though some can last longer.
- Lithium di-silicate crowns
Lithium di-silicate is a form of glass-ceramic made of lithium and silicon. Remember that lithium is a silver-white metal, while silicon is one of the hardest crystalline solids. Combine the two, and you have excellent material for dental crowns. A key advantage of lithium di-silicate crowns is that the doctor can make and install the crown in just one office visit. It’s a quality that has made the material very popular among dentists lately. The crowns usually last 5-15 years.
- Gold crowns
Finally, those prepared to pay a premium can also choose yellow gold crowns. Gold is extremely strong and resistant to chipping or cracking. It also fits teeth very well. The only downside is the unnatural appearance. However, it works very well for molars and premolars. Price may also be an issue. A gold crown can last more than 30 years without problems.
The other factors that can affect the life of a dental crown as follows;
- Type of tooth: Dental crowns are likely to last longer for teeth that don’t do a lot of biting and chewing.
- Oral hygiene: Dental crowns are also likely to last longer with proper oral hygiene. Regular brushing and flossing, for instance, can prevent staining in dental crowns, just as in regular teeth.
- The health of the affected tooth: If the affected tooth was relatively healthy with longer, healthy roots, gum, and bone levels, then the crown will last a long time.
- Poor habits: Grinding your teeth, clenching, and using your teeth as tools can lead to faster crown damage, just as happens with regular teeth.
- The dentist’s expertise: Your crown is also likely to last longer if the dentist knows what they’re doing. Proper preparation of the area is especially important. Precision is also vital.
Dental crowns are a great way to restore tooth function and dental esthetics. If properly installed, it allows you to eat normally and smile without second thoughts. Just make sure a professional, licensed dentist installs it.