Dental implants and crowns are both considered major restorative procedures for teeth that have been severely damaged, or that are missing. Both procedures can improve both the cosmetic aspect and functionality of your smile. This article will explain the difference between the two and help determine which treatment you need.
Who Needs Implants Or Crowns?
Severe decay, root canal therapy, trauma, or damage below the gum line can cause irreparable harm to your teeth. In cases where part of the tooth can be saved, like after root canal therapy, your dentist will recommend a crown be placed over the tooth. When more severe damage is sustained to the tooth, such as a crack below the gum line, it may be necessary to extract the tooth and replace it with a dental implant.
Dental implants are a permanent solution to missing teeth. Advantages to implants are that they are extremely durable and function and look exactly like your natural teeth. Disadvantages are that implants take multiple visits to your dentist and may take months to fully heal and be completely functional. The success of an implant is also largely dependent on the bone density in your jaw.
Implants are surgically “implanted” into your jawbone using anchors, called “posts.” During the first visit your dentist will place the post into the jawbone. The post gets a protective cover for several weeks while the post fuses with the jawbone to form a permanent bond. If the fusion does not take place, the implant cannot be successful and other means of restoration must be used.
Once the implant post is secured to the bone, a temporary prosthetic tooth is set on the post to allow the gums to re-form and grow around the tooth. Finally, a permanent prosthetic tooth will be placed.
(Note: please talk about anesthesia and the comfort level of this procedure. This article sounds pretty scary.)
A crown is a viable solution when part of a tooth can be saved, as with most root canal therapies. Because root canal therapy removes only the top and inside, or pulp, of the tooth, the “shell” of the tooth generally remains intact after the procedure. However, the tooth is very fragile and must be reinforced through a restorative procedure such as crown.
A crown is a cap shaped like your tooth used to restore the shape, strength, and functionality of a tooth. A crown is cemented into place at the margin, or gum line, but in some cases small posts may be inserted into the tooth’s roots to act as an anchor for the crown.
The most distinct advantage of a crown is that it is minimally invasive and requires only a few visits to the dentist. However, crowns are not permanent. While they may last many years, they will eventually need to be replaced. (Note: you really can’t compare crowns and implants, they serve two totally different needs.)
If you have badly damaged or missing teeth that require a restorative procedure, talk to your dentist about whether a dental implant or crown might be right for you.