Your teeth are part of one big happy family, but when one of them is damaged or otherwise fails, the whole group suffers. The good news is that many instances of damage to teeth can be repaired with dental crowns, which are “covers” made from specially-designed and durable materials typically colored in the shade to naturally blend with your existing teeth.
Reasons for needing a crown vary, but some of the most common include:
- Restoring large areas of decay that cannot be addressed with a typical filling
- Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
- Restoring a tooth after root canal procedures
- Cosmetic reasons to improve a discolored tooth
- Rebuild structural areas of an injured or cracked tooth
Caring for dental crowns
Dental crowns are incredibly strong, and they can last many years with the right kind of attentive care. The best strategy in caring for dental crowns blends regular dental visits with diligent oral care at home, including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing them at least once while maintaining a healthy diet.
Food to avoid with dental crowns
Always remember that it is a good idea to steer clear of very hard foods (no Jawbreakers) and don’t do things like chewing on ice; either of these choices could cause breakage of the crown. In addition to hard candy, other food can significantly impact the lifespan of your dental crowns, including nuts, sticky desserts, chewing gum, and even crunchy fresh vegetable such as carrots and broccoli.
Once the crown procedure is complete, it doesn’t take much time to adjust to the feel of the crown on your repaired tooth. However, some foods can complicate the process and make your adjustment period more challenging. These kinds of food will not negatively affect your dental crown, but if they make eating uncomfortable, you should at least temporarily eliminate them from your diet:
- Soup, coffee, and other hot foods can cause some teeth adorned with crowns to feel sensitive, especially if gum recession is also at play.
- Cold foods can trigger the same painful sensitivity, so stay away from ice cream for a while.
- Avoid sugary foods, sticky candy, and the like as a simple rule, and always when you have a dental crown. Sugar is an express route to decay, and sticky or hard foods can damage the crown.
Dental crown care tips
While the lifespan of a dental crown varies, your oral hygiene habits go a long way in extending that time frame. In addition to brushing, flossing, and rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash; be aware of and follow these tips:
- Consider using a night guard. These guards resemble retainers to ensure upper and lower teeth do not touch, and they are also very helpful in protecting against grinding teeth while sleeping. Grinding teeth wears them down and can even cause a crown to pop.
- Ditch bad habits like chewing your fingernails or ice, which can loosen a crown from its moorings. When brushing, remember to be attentive to the gumline area.
- Some lower-quality crowns are susceptible to chipping, such as porcelain-based varieties. A dentist may be able to restore a damaged crown by etching it with an adhesive to bond the crown’s composite resin. However, repaired crowns are prone to damage and are generally less durable.
- Perhaps the most critical step in crown maintenance is keeping up with routine dentist visits. It’s easy to procrastinate, but preemptive visits can help identify and remedy issues before they become serious (and expensive).
Remember, if you feel pain while chewing or biting down, immediately schedule an appointment so your dentist can investigate the cause of the problem. One common culprit is the crown sits up too high, and in that case, your dentist can adjust its shape and position. Other times, glue beneath the crown washes away, and bacteria finds its way in to cause decay. Crowns can also fall off completely if not properly adhered to.
If your crown does fall off, do not attempt to “glue” it back into place, and most definitely do not ignore it and choose to simply put up with it. Use a temporary adhesive like Fixodent to keep the crown in place until your dentist can have a look.