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What is a Dental Crown?
A dental crown is a cap which is placed over the remaining tooth following root canal surgery, or other problems, such as a chipped cusp, or to enhance the structural integrity of a tooth with excessive or large fillings. A crown is also used to rectify aesthetic issues, when teeth have become stained, to provide a whiter smile, or when the level of wear and tear caused by years of teeth crunching together, has worn them down to the extent that the bite, or occlusion is no longer effective. Regardless of the reason for having a crown, it will work well for a long period of time, if you look after it.
Temporary and Permanent Crowns
There are two types of crown, the temporary, which is normally used for just a few days, and a permanent crown which is used when the problems have been dealt with. The temporary crown, which is usually made of plastic,will be fitted as the root canal surgery or other dental work is completed. Your dentist will have taken an impression of your teeth, to ensure that the permanent crown is going to align perfectly with your other teeth.
Caring For Your Temporary Crown
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A temporary crown is only designed to be in place for a short period of time and hence your dentist will use a fairly weak cement to hold it in place, so that is can be easily removed when the permanent one is ready. Care at this stage is really a case of things to do and things not to do. Avoid chewy foods such as toffee or chewing gum, which could grab hold of the crown and pull it off. Avoid crunchy food such as nuts, hard candy or raw vegetables which could break the weak bond. Do try to use the other side of your mouth as much as possible, while sliding floss out rather than the more normal lifting out to avoid catching the edge and pulling it off.
Caring For Permanent Crowns
Given the average dental crown cost, getting the maximum life out of it is a smart idea. Some people assume that because it is made of metal or very strong ceramics that it doesn’t need maintenance, but this is totally wrong. The most vulnerable point is the line where the crown meets the original tooth, and is very much open to the same decay that caused the original problems in the first place. Use of a high fluoride gel is advisable and of course, just because you have a crown does not leave you unsusceptible to gum disease, so regular cleaning, especially along the gum line is required. Should you notice or feel that the tooth is showing any signs whatsoever of movement when you chew, or you notice a funny taste in your mouth, it is an indication that there is not a perfect fit, and a visit to the dentist for a refitting is in order. Failure to do so will allow bacteria and infection to leak in and cause further decay.
Dental Crown Longevity
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On average, a crown will last 5 to 15 years without maintenance, and how long you get will be determined largely on your dental hygiene practices. Aside from regular cleaning, avoid biting fingernails, opening packages with your teeth or excessive grinding, all of which can cause wear and tear and damage.