Protect your oral health by understanding your crown’s strengths and limits.
If you have heard about dental crowns, then you’ll know they’re designed to protect teeth from decay. Sitting snugly over your natural tooth, dental crowns form a protective barrier that helps safeguard the tooth underneath from future injury or decay. But just how thoroughly does a dental crown protect the tooth beneath it? Can it protect that tooth from all future cavities? If you’re wondering this, you’re not alone—we get this question a lot! It’s a great question to ask because understanding your crown and its limits will help you take better care of it as well as your oral health as a whole. With that in mind, we’ve put together a basic explanation of different types and stages of tooth decay, how dental crowns can be used against decay, and what their limits are.
There are many types and stages of decay.
Tooth decay progresses over time, so teeth tend to go through several stages of decay. Which stage of decay your tooth is suffering from determines what treatment Dr. Rob will recommend. Demineralization is the earliest stage of tooth decay, where the minerals in your teeth begin to be leached away. Thankfully, it’s also by far the easiest to treat. Fluoride can generally halt and even reverse demineralization, so using fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash during your daily oral hygiene routine is an important part of reversing demineralization—and it will help prevent decay as a whole. Dr. Rob may also recommend that you receive a fluoride treatment at our office.
Your tooth is made of several layers, including enamel, dentin, and the pulp at its center. As tooth decay advances to each new layer of your tooth, it hits a new stage of severity. Enamel decay is the first stage, dentin decay is the second, and pulp damage is the third. Each stage of decay requires more advanced treatments than the previous stage, so it’s always best to catch tooth decay as early as possible. It’s usually not until the decay reaches the pulp at the center of your tooth, which contains nerves and blood vessels, that cavities start actively hurting. This type of decay requires more extensive treatments and can cause serious oral health issues if it isn’t addressed right away. An abscess is an infection in your tooth root that can be caused by pulp damage from a severe cavity. It can also happen independently of decay, such as due to an impacted or damaged tooth.
Crowns are a great solution for some advanced stages of decay.
Thankfully, modern dentistry provides us with many great tools to fight decay and take back your oral health, even if your tooth has been severely damaged. Dental crowns are one of the best treatments out there for severe decay, often resolving bigger cavities or more severe stages of decay like dentin decay or pulp damage. Once decay has reached the pulp of a tooth, dental crowns are often paired with a root canal. This procedure involves cleaning out the pulp of your tooth to completely remove the decay inside, after which the tooth is capped with a crown to protect it from future damage. Dental crowns are incredibly good at restoring and protecting the health, function, and even appearance of teeth that have suffered advanced decay, so it’s no wonder that they’re a go-to treatment for many patients! In fact, they’re so good at what they do that they can even restore and protect the health of a tooth that may have otherwise needed to be removed.
Decayed teeth can’t always be solved with crowns.
As amazing as dental crowns are at their job, they can’t—and don’t always need to—address all types and stages of decay. Demineralization can be solved with fluoride, and enamel decay can often be addressed with regular dental fillings. If your tooth doesn’t need a dental crown, it’s better to go with a milder treatment that preserves more of your natural tooth structure. Despite how good dental crowns are at their job, they won’t work for all types and stages of decay. Abscesses can sometimes be treated using a root canal and crown paired with antibiotics, but not always. In severe cases, an abscessed tooth may need to be removed.
A dental crown isn’t a guarantee against future decay.
While dental crowns are great at helping prevent decay, they aren’t a guarantee against it. Your dental crown covers the chewing surface of your tooth, but it doesn’t cover all of it. When bacteria-filled plaque or tartar is allowed to sit at your gumline, it can cause decay there. Even if you have a strong, durable crown like a zirconia crown, bacteria that sits at the gumline may make their way underneath your crown, causing decay there. Additionally, you can also get gum disease, which is when bacteria attack your gums and make it underneath your gumline to attack your tooth roots and other supporting structures of your teeth. Your dental crown cannot protect against damage from gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss if it goes untreated.
You have the power to make a difference in your oral health.
Despite this, there are plenty of steps you can take to improve your oral health and help your dental crown function at its best. Sticking to a great oral hygiene routine is a vital part of protecting your teeth against decay, whether or not you have a dental crown. This means brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, flossing and using fluoridated mouthwash at least once a day, and visiting Dr. Rob every six months. These regular dental checkups help prevent decay and give Dr. Rob the chance to spot and treat any potential oral health issues early, including issues like a failing crown. When you commit yourself to this routine, you’ll see a major difference in your oral health and the longevity of your crown. With great care, it can easily last around 15 years or more!
Reach out to the Valley Dental Clinic team with any questions.
While dental crowns are an important part of restoring and protecting teeth from decay, they aren’t a guarantee against future decay, especially not without a good oral hygiene routine. Thankfully, a great oral hygiene routine only takes a few minutes out of your day, but the benefits last you a lifetime! If you’d like to learn more about dental crowns or oral hygiene, feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rob at any time.