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Answers to 2 Common Questions about Dental Crowns

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If you have a damaged or weak tooth, you can correct it using either temporary or permanent dental crowns, the latter of which can last as long as a decade with proper care and maintenance. There's a lot of consideration that must go into the process of selecting, installing and maintaining your dental crowns. This article answers two critical questions related to these aspects.

1. Which dental crowns should I use?

Crowns are usually selected according to functional requirements, your aesthetic demands and the strength of the remaining tooth portion. While you have the final say in the type of crown that will be used, your dentist will offer helpful advice depending on your unique dental state and desires. These are the crown choices that you have:

  1. Porcelain jacket – PJC crowns are commonly used in teeth that are critical aesthetically, but they are quite heavy, so there's a risk of the tooth fracturing under the weight. As such, they are often not used on anterior teeth (canines and incisors)
  2. Full veneer metal – VMC crowns need little tooth preparation, but since they stick out aesthetically, they are only applied to posterior teeth, unless you favour the metal tooth display
  3. High-strength porcelain – HSPC crowns are suitable to replace VMC crowns when aesthetics are considered. However, tooth preparation is extensive to allow an adequate thickness of porcelain to be installed
  4. Resin-bonded porcelain – RBPC crowns are useful for providing whole-tooth coverage without removing too much tooth tissue in preparation. They are useful in younger patients that have larger, more vulnerable tooth pulps.

2. What should I do if my dental crown becomes loose?

Dental crowns rarely become loose because, when bonded permanently, they can almost function just like your natural teeth. On rare occasion, however, dental crowns can become loose for many reasons. Here are the steps to take if you notice your crown is loosening:

  1. Remain calm. Don't panic or start fiddling with the site
  2. Don't eat anything hard or sticky. Your tooth underneath the crown doesn't have the same protection or strength as it did with the crown firmly in place, and so there's a risk of infection or damage
  3. Don't leave the crown in the mouth. Wash your hands thoroughly, then remove it and place it in a clean, sealed container to bring with you to the dentist.
  4. Examine your tooth for signs of fracture, chipping or breaking. Sometimes crowns come loose because the natural teeth underneath have sustained some damage
  5. Maintain hygiene by brushing the site very gently when you're brushing, and then rinse properly
  6. Schedule an immediate appointment to see your dentist for examination and replacement or restoration. You may be able to reuse the old crown if it's intact. Otherwise, a new crown will be recommended.