Dental crowns are artificial restorations used to restore, protect and preserve teeth which are structurally compromised. Also known as caps, crowns are fitted over the prepared tooth or teeth.
Crowns are used to restore teeth which have been fractured or broken, weakened by extensive tooth decay, or have been heavily filled and/or root filled.
Modern crowns not only protect heavily restored or broken-down teeth and prevent further breakdown, but also restore the natural form and appearance. They can also be used as an abutment or anchor for a fixed bridge to restore a missing tooth or teeth or assist with holding a removable denture in place.
While dental crowns can last for a long time if properly maintained and looked after with a good oral hygiene routine, there can be times where they may need to be replaced. As a result of time-related changes, wear and tear, aesthetics, damage through trauma or further dental decay
Can dental crowns be replaced?
Most dental crowns can be replaced if necessary, providing the remaining tooth structure is sound enough to support a new crown. There may be some additional work required, such as removing further decay, providing a ‘core build up’, or root treatment, but as long as the remaining tooth structure is adequate to support a new crown, it can be successfully replaced with a new restoration.
However, sometimes damage done to the crowned tooth through extensive further tooth decay, fracture or trauma may mean that the tooth is no longer restorable and another procedure would be more appropriate for the tooth instead of a crown, such as a dental implant or bridge.
Problems found with old dental crowns
There are three main problems with older dental crowns that can lead to the need for replacement:
The crown has chipped or broken
Crowns can chip or break just like teeth – for example if they suffer accidental trauma of some kind, e.g. a sports injury, or if there is an unexpected hard object in a piece of food that breaks the tooth when bitten on, or simply through wear and tear over time. The quality of the dental work done also has an influence of the longevity and success of any dental restoration as well as the patient’s own home dental care and oral hygiene routine.
The crown no longer looks aesthetic
This is one of the most common reasons for changing crowns, as over time and as we age, changes to the gum line and appearance of our teeth and smile can occur and a dental crown or crowns may no longer look as good. In addition, the ceramic materials of the crowns (particularly if of an older generation) can lose their aesthetics and natural vitality over time. Time-related changes such as a gum recession, tooth discolouration and material aging may influence the aesthetics. Older crowns tend not to be as aesthetic as modern-day materials and it is not uncommon to see dark edges around old crowns that appear unsightly, particularly those containing metal.
Many people choose to have older crowns replaced as part of an overall treatment to improve the aesthetics of their smile, i.e. to have whiter or more attractive teeth, especially as styles change and today patients prefer whiter teeth than they did a decade or two ago.
If the tooth underneath the dental crown decays, the crown may need to be replaced. The old crown will need to be removed to treat the decay beneath and then a new one can be made.
Dental crown replacement procedure
Replacing a crown is very similar to the original crown procedure aside from the fact that the old crown is removed first.
The tooth is prepared after the removal of the old dental crown; decay is removed if necessary and any work that needs to be done is carried out on the tooth beneath. Sometimes, this maintenance may need to include root canal work and rebuilding the tooth underneath, i.e. a ‘core-build up’.
An impression or a digital scan of the teeth is taken, along with an impression or scan of the opposite jaw and of the way the teeth bite. A provisional or temporary ‘interim’ crown is also made and fitted. The dental technician uses the scans or impressions, along with information about the colour and material to use, to fabricate the new crown and the dentist will then be able to fit the crown after a couple of weeks.
Sometimes a trial fitting is required to enable minor tweaks and refinements to be carried out, such as to optimise the colour, shape or function, particularly if a single front crown needs to be matched to the patient’s own teeth.
Have your dental crown replaced at the Windsor Centre for Advanced Dentistry
If you’d like to find out more about what we can do for your old dental crowns, take a look at our website, get in contact with us so we can organise a consultation to examine your current dental work, or book your first appointment.