Dental Crown Cleaning Tips: A Comprehensive Guide to the Treatment
Crowns are used in both rehabilitative and cosmetic dentistry to strengthen and protect the structure of a tooth and improve the aesthetic appeal of your smile. A dental crown—sometimes referred to as a cap—is a customised tooth-shaped prosthetic that is permanently placed over your natural tooth and bonded in place to provide structural reinforcement and restore the appearance and function of a tooth.
These days, state-of-the-art, highly biocompatible stain-resistant materials such as zirconium dioxide are used for dental crowns and bridges that look and feel like natural teeth. These are stronger than traditional materials, such as porcelain and metal alloys. Increasingly, high-strength hybrid crowns are becoming popular as an alternative to all-ceramic crowns due to improved durability. However, they still provide natural cosmetic results that mask staining and discolouration to restore your all-white smile.
What is the difference between dental crowns, veneers and bridges?
Dental crowns are sometimes confused with veneers, which are thinner and only cover the front and side of a tooth and are primarily used as an elective cosmetic procedure; crowns, in contrast, provide full-coverage restoration and cosmetic enhancement.
So, what’s the difference between crowns and bridges (and no, we are not talking about the card game or chessboard…)? A bridge is an artificial tooth that sits anchored between two crowns on either side and is commonly used as a supportive structure to replace a missing tooth.
A dental crown is fitted to encase the entire tooth from the gumline, without the need for surgery or compromising the existing root structure. Generally, dental crowns will only take two appointments to fit. The first stage consists of preparing the natural tooth to provide the optimal conditions for the placement of a crown. Your natural tooth will be thoroughly cleaned, trimmed by 1-2mm under local anaesthetic, and have any damage removed. Your dentist will then take an impression of your tooth, which will be sent away to an expert technician to custom-make the crown. In the meantime, you will receive a temporary resin crown. Your new permanent dental crown will be fitted, checked, and cemented by your dentist on your second appointment.
Sometimes, a patient has such extensive damage that natural tooth rehabilitation through crowning is not possible. In these instances, an implant crown is attached using surgery to the patient’s jaw and replaces the entire tooth, with an artificial titanium ‘root’ embedded within the bone structure.
Why might you need a dental crown?
There are a wide variety of reasons why a dentist may recommend a dental crown, including:
- To restore a tooth that has been weakened by decay
- To protect a tooth that has become brittle after root canal treatment
- To protect the structure of a cracked tooth
- To protect a tooth from fracture after a large filling
- As an alternative to a filling in a badly damaged tooth
- To replace a missing tooth by forming a dental bridge for an artificial tooth
- To improve the aesthetic of your smile when intrinsic tooth discolouration will not respond to conventional whitening treatments or may be used to enhance internal bleaching
- To straighten misshapen or crooked teeth without the need for braces
- Dental implant restoration
How to maintain and clean your dental crown
Once a patient has been fitted for a dental crown or bridge, it is imperative to maintain daily dental hygiene habits to protect the longevity of your crowned tooth as well as safeguard your long-term oral health.
Dental crown cleaning
The basics of dental crown cleaning involve:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day.
- Flossing daily to prevent bacterial deposits around the crown.
- Visiting your dentist every six months for routine cleans and check-ups.
While the same advice applies to all our patients, if you have a dental crown, it is especially important to maintain cleaning techniques to keep your mouth as plaque-free as possible to avoid infections developing under the crown.
To protect the surface of your crown (especially if it is ceramic), use a gentle soft-bristled toothbrush and a good quality fluoridated non-abrasive paste. It’s also important to take extra care when flossing; to prevent potential dislodgement, gently pull the floss out sideways rather than snapping it out.
There are also important dietary considerations to keep in mind to protect both your oral health, overall wellbeing, and the lifespan of your crown. It is strongly recommended to minimise sugary treats and acidic foods that have the potential to promote decay, erosion, and gum disease. Don’t be fooled into a false sense of security just because you have a crown; while the actual dental crown cannot decay, your natural tooth underneath is still susceptible to decay and periodontitis. It is also recommended to avoid or be wary of hard or sticky foods such as popcorn, caramels, liquorice, nuts or ice, which have the potential to loosen or dislodge your crown.
To keep your sparkling white smile, avoid food and drinks that will lead to your crown staining. Unfortunately, your crown is not entirely resistant to those prime teeth-staining culprits such as tea, coffee, and red wine. Of course, it goes without saying that smoking will compromise the aesthetic quality of your crown as well as your overall health and wellbeing.
Another behavioural factor to address to protect your dental crown’s health is teeth grinding or jaw clenching (also referred to as bruxism). Consult your practitioner to identify the underlying cause of grinding and wear a retainer to sleep to prevent further damage.
A crown could last you decades or even a lifetime with diligent care and cleaning.
Dental Avenue is one of Sydney’s premier providers of general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry. Our crown specialists at our dental clinic in Paramatta are here to discuss your suitability for cosmetic dentistry procedures, whether that be veneers, crowns, or bridges. Contact your local Parramatta dentist today to learn more about our extensive range of high-quality treatments.
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