So you’ve had some dental issues and are going to have to choose between getting a dental crown or a dental implant. How do you decide which is better for you?
Dental implants are typically used to replace an entire tooth, and dental crowns are typically used if some part of the tooth and the root are still viable but need topped off in order to function properly.
If you have a missing tooth, implants are probably the best way to go, however if you have a tooth that is simply decayed and may not have to be completely replaced, a dental crown may be an option.
For decades dentists used to go with individual crowns or multi-pieced bridges to repair damaged teeth. In the past 25 years or so the dental implant has become much more popular for many reasons.
The benefits of dental implants are numerous:
• Implants protect other teeth
• An implant can replace just a single tooth
• Implants require little maintenance
• Implants look like a natural tooth
• Implants will not slip, therefore make eating more natural
• Implants are more cost-effective in the long run
Implants do not put any strain on other teeth since they are placed individually. Implants are anchored to your jaw bone with a titanium screw with a small fake tooth (called an abutment) on top, followed by a crown that looks and feels like a natural tooth.
Implants do not decay, and because of the ease of flossing and cleaning the implants, the gum tissue and underlying bone are likely to stay healthy as well.
Although the cost of a single implant will likely run from $3,000 to $4,500, they are also likely to last your entire lifetime. Weigh that against the cost of repeatedly replacing crowns, along with the time you’ll spend and any possible pain you’ll endure, and you will likely come out ahead many ways with the implant.
Dental bridges and crowns
Dental bridges and crowns have their own advantages, the main being that you can salvage your own tooth root and partial tooth, therefore they don’t require surgical intervention and probably surgical referral that an implant would.
Another advantage is the time you will spend having the procedure done. Bridges and crowns can be fashioned in two to three dentist visits. The first visit requires the dentist to diagnose the amount of decay to the tooth and then remove the decay and seal off the unfinished tooth with a temporary cap. A following visit will likely either be placing the permanent crown, or making a mold where the permanent crown would then be placed at a follow-up visit.
Porcelain or ceramic crowns and bridges can be colored to match the teeth surrounding the area where they will be placed, optimizing their appearance to be as natural as possible. Other materials used to make crowns include gold and metal alloys and acrylic. These other materials will not match your natural teeth, however they are generally stronger than porcelain and may be recommended to replace back teeth.
Caring for your dental crown is similar to caring for your normal teeth. The crown will need brushing, flossing and will be checked at your regular dental check-ups. Crowns are also not immune to being chipped or damaged by anything that can damage your real teeth.
Even with multiple visits, a bridge or crown cost less than an implant. However, be prepared to have to replace the bridge or crown every 10-15 years due to normal wear and tear.
No matter which option you choose, taking care of your dental hygiene is a must. An implant, bridge or crown can lose its support if the teeth or bone holding it in place are damaged by dental disease. Keep your gums and teeth healthy by brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing daily. Also see your dentist and hygienist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings.