Dental Crowns: Frequently Asked Questions and Expert Answers

Dental crowns are customized porcelain caps with both functional and aesthetic benefits. They act as protective shields that cover damaged or weakened teeth, restoring their strength, shape, and functionality. As wonderful and convenient as this restorative dentistry procedure is, you must understand how dental crowns work and what to expect once you get them.

Before knocking on your dentist’s door, get answers to some frequently asked questions about dental crowns to make an informed decision during your next appointment.

3D image of dental crowns for a restorative dentistry procedure

FAQs About Dental Crowns

What Are Dental Crowns?

Teeth are susceptible to cavities due to factors such as poor oral hygiene, dietary habits, genetics, and certain medical conditions. When dental decay occurs, the tooth’s structure becomes compromised, leading to issues like pain, sensitivity, and increased risk of gum disease and tooth loss.

Dental crowns offer a valuable solution to address the consequences of dental decay. They act as a shield, providing long-lasting protection by encasing the compromised tooth completely. Once the dentist places a dental crown over the affected tooth, the decayed portion is sealed off from harmful bacteria, preventing the progression of this oral problem and reducing the risk of additional damage.

Besides preventing further decay, dental crowns make the tooth less likely to suffer from fractures, chips, and cracks. The crown serves as an external layer, reinforcing the weakened tooth and giving the support needed to withstand everyday biting and chewing forces.

Dental crowns also offer aesthetic benefits by restoring the tooth’s shape, size, and look. When tooth decay occurs, it can lead to discoloration, irregular shapes, and an unappealing appearance. A dental crown placement addresses these concerns, resulting in a natural-looking tooth that seamlessly blends with surrounding teeth.

When Do I Need a Dental Crown?

Protecting Weakened Teeth from Further Damage

When a tooth is weakened due to severe decay or a large filling, it becomes more vulnerable to fractures and additional decay. A dental crown acts as a protective cap that covers the entire tooth, providing strength and stability. By getting a crown, the weakened tooth is shielded from further damage, reducing the risk of complications and the need for more extensive treatments.

Restoring Broken or Severely Worn-Down Teeth

Cracked, fractured, or extensively worn down teeth may require a dental crown to restore their functionality and appearance. The crown covers the damaged portion of the tooth, reinforcing its structure and preventing further deterioration. Crowns not only allow you to chew and bite properly but also enhance the tooth’s aesthetics and give you a more youthful look.

Covering and Strengthening Teeth After Root Canal Treatment

A root canal is a dental procedure that removes infected or damaged pulp from the inside of a tooth. A dentist cleans, disinfects, and seals the tooth to prevent further infection and save it from extraction. After undergoing root canal treatment, a tooth can become brittle and more prone to fractures.

Dentists often place a dental crown over the treated tooth to protect and strengthen it. This provides an additional layer of support, seals off the treated tooth, and prevents bacteria from re-entering.  

Anchoring Dental Bridges to Replace Missing Teeth

When you have one or more missing teeth, a dental bridge can fill the gap. Dental crowns play a crucial role in this process by serving as anchors for the bridge. The dentist places the crowns on the adjacent teeth, securing the bridge by attaching the artificial teeth to them. Dental crowns ensure stability, securely holding the bridge in place. They also allow you to properly chew and speak while maintaining proper tooth alignment.

Enhancing the Appearance of Misshapen, Discolored, or Poorly Aligned Teeth

Dental crowns can also serve cosmetic purposes to improve the appearance of teeth. Dental crowns are the perfect solution if your teeth are misshapen, severely discolored, or poorly aligned and cannot be corrected with other cosmetic treatments. Each crown is custom-made to match the color, shape, and size of your natural teeth, creating a more harmonious and aesthetically pleasing smile.

How Are Dental Crowns Placed?

Tooth Preparation

Before placing a dental crown, your dentist will carefully prepare the tooth that will receive the crown. This involves removing a layer of enamel from the tooth’s surface to create space for the crown.

The amount of enamel removed is typically equal to the thickness of the crown, ensuring a proper fit without making the tooth overly bulky. Tooth preparation may also involve shaping the tooth to improve its stability and crown retention.


Once the tooth is prepared, your dentist will take impressions of the tooth and surrounding teeth. These impressions serve as a reference for creating a custom-made crown that precisely fits your tooth and aligns with your bite.

A dentist makes impressions using a putty-like material or digitally with advanced dental technology. Then, they send these impressions to a dental laboratory where skilled technicians will craft your permanent crown.

Temporary Crown

While your permanent crown is being fabricated, your dentist will place a temporary crown over the prepared tooth. The temporary crown protects the exposed tooth structure, prevents sensitivity, and maintains the space and alignment of your teeth until the permanent crown is ready.

Although temporary crowns are not as durable as permanent ones, they still allow you to chew and speak comfortably. Remember to follow your dentist’s guidelines to ensure the temporary crown remains secure during this interim period.

Permanent Crown Placement

Once your custom-made permanent crown is ready, you will return to the dental office for its placement. Your dentist will carefully remove the temporary crown and clean the prepared tooth. They will then check the permanent crown’s fit, color, and shape to ensure it meets your expectations and blends seamlessly with your natural teeth.

Your dentist will also make any necessary adjustments for optimal comfort. Finally, the permanent crown will be permanently cemented or bonded onto the prepared tooth, completing the restoration process.

Throughout the placement process, your dentist will ensure that the crown fits snugly. They’ll provide proper support to the underlying tooth and align it with your bite. They will also consider factors such as color, shape, and size to ensure the crown achieves a natural and aesthetically pleasing result.

Are Dental Crowns Painful?

The dental crown procedure itself is not typically painful because dentists use local anesthesia to numb the area. However, you may experience some sensitivity or discomfort afterward, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribed medication. Any post-procedure sensitivity usually subsides within a few days.

If you still feel pain after a week or experience symptoms like excessive bleeding or inflammation, please contact your dentist for an emergency visit.

Many dental crowns for a restorative dentistry procedure

How Long Do Dental Crowns Last?

The lifespan of dental crowns is influenced by several factors, primarily the materials used and the level of care they receive. Dental crowns can offer long-lasting durability and functionality with proper maintenance and attention to oral hygiene.

The choice of materials for dental crowns can impact their longevity. Common materials include porcelain, ceramic, metal alloys, and composite resin. Each material has its own characteristics regarding strength, aesthetics, and resistance to wear. Porcelain and ceramic crowns, for example, offer excellent aesthetics but may be more prone to chipping or fracture compared to metal crowns, which are highly durable but less aesthetically pleasing. Your dentist will help you select the most suitable material based on your specific needs.

Proper maintenance is also crucial for maximizing the lifespan of dental crowns. Good oral hygiene practices play a vital role. Regular brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste helps prevent plaque buildup, which can lead to decay and gum disease. Flossing daily removes food particles and plaque from between the teeth and along the gumline, protecting the health of the underlying tooth structure.

Attending regular dental check-ups is also essential. Your dentist will examine the condition of your dental crowns during routine visits, ensuring they remain in good shape. Professional cleanings remove any accumulated plaque or tartar and extend the lifespan of your crowns. Your dentist may also identify and address any issues early on, preventing potential complications.

While the average lifespan of dental crowns ranges from 10 to 15 years, individual experiences may vary. Some crowns can last even longer with proper care, while others may require replacement earlier due to teeth grinding or underlying dental conditions. Your dentist will check your crowns and advise you on when you have to replace them.

How Do I Care for My Dental Crowns?

Proper care and maintenance are essential for the longevity and optimal performance of dental crowns. While caring for dental crowns is similar to caring for natural teeth, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind.

Brushing Technique

Brush your teeth at least twice a day using a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Gently brush all surfaces of your teeth, including the area around the crown. Pay close attention to the gumline, as plaque usually accumulates around this soft tissue.


Flossing removes plaque and food particles between your teeth and along the gumline. Use a gentle back-and-forth motion to navigate the floss around the crown and neighboring teeth. Consider using waxed or glide floss, which can be smoother and more comfortable.

Antimicrobial Mouthwash

Incorporate an antibacterial or antimicrobial mouthwash into your oral hygiene routine. Rinse with the mouthwash after brushing and flossing to help reduce bacteria in the mouth and maintain good oral hygiene. Follow the instructions on the mouthwash bottle for better results.

Be Mindful of Food Choices

Avoid chewing on hard or sticky foods that can potentially damage the crown. Hard candies, ice, popcorn kernels, and sticky candies can pose a risk to the integrity of the crown. Opt for softer foods or cut up hard foods into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Schedule Regular Dental Check-ups

Schedule regular dental check-ups, typically every six months or as recommended by your dentist. During these visits, your dentist will examine the condition of your dental crowns, perform professional cleanings to remove plaque and tartar buildup, and assess your overall oral health. Early detection of any issues can help prevent complications and ensure the longevity of your dental crowns.

Can Dental Crowns Be Covered by Insurance?

Whether dental crowns are covered by insurance depends on your specific dental insurance policy. While some insurance plans may cover a portion of the cost, others may have limitations or exclusions. Review your insurance policy and speak with your insurance provider to understand the coverage details. Your dentist’s office can also assist you in navigating the insurance process and maximizing your benefits.

Are There Any Alternatives to Dental Crowns?

When addressing dental issues, crowns are not the only option available. Depending on your specific problem, your dentist may suggest alternative treatments that can provide effective solutions. Here are a few common alternatives to dental crowns:

Dental Veneers

Veneers are porcelain or composite resin shells bonded to the front surface of your teeth. They are primarily used to improve the appearance of discolored, chipped, or slightly misaligned teeth. Veneers can enhance the aesthetics of your smile by altering the shape, size, and color of your teeth.

Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays, also known as indirect fillings, are conservative options for restoring teeth with moderate levels of decay or damage. They are typically made from porcelain, composite resin, or gold and are custom-made to fit your tooth. Inlays are used when the decay or damage is within the cusps of the tooth, while onlays cover a larger portion of the tooth, including one or more cusps.

Composite Bonding

Composite bonding involves the application of a tooth-colored composite resin material to repair or enhance the appearance of teeth. Dentists use it to fix chips, cracks, gaps, and discoloration. They sculpt and bond resin to the tooth, providing a natural-looking restoration.

Orthodontic Treatment

In cases where misalignment or spacing issues are the main concern, dental professionals recommend orthodontic treatments. Braces or clear aligners can help gradually straighten your teeth, improving both functionality and aesthetics.

Dental Implants

Dental implants can be an alternative to dental crowns for individuals with missing teeth. Implants involve the placement of a titanium post into the jawbone, which acts as an artificial tooth root. A dental crown is then attached to the implant, providing a durable and natural-looking replacement tooth.

Dentist showing dental crowns to a patient for a restorative dentistry procedure

Looking for an Expert in Restorative Dentistry?

Ready to restore your smile and enjoy the benefits of dental crowns and other restorative dentistry procedures? Schedule an appointment at PGA Dentistry today! Our experienced team is here to provide top-notch dental care, ensuring your comfort and satisfaction. Reclaim your oral health and confidence – contact us today!