Give your crown the care it needs to last as long as possible.
There are many reasons why dental crowns are some of the most common restorative dental procedures. They’re incredibly effective at saving and protecting teeth that might otherwise be lost, restoring strength, function, health, and appearance. Dental crowns can last up to 15 years or more before they need to be replaced. Just like natural teeth, however, dental crowns need exceptional daily care to last this long with no issues. But what exactly does that daily care look like? Thankfully it’s not hard. In many ways it’s just like the daily care and attention you give your other teeth. To help you ensure that your crown and the underlying tooth stay healthy and beautiful for years to come, we’ve put together a comprehensive checklist for your dental crown care.
Commit to maintaining a good oral hygiene routine.
While dental crowns themselves can’t get cavities, the natural tooth structure beneath them still can. Also, oral health issues like gum disease can still damage your tooth and compromise your crown, so it’s important to commit to a great oral hygiene routine! A good at-home regimen for dental crown care should include brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using mouthwash daily.
It’s tempting to skip the floss, but believe us—it’s better for your natural teeth and your crown to build flossing into your daily routine! Flossing is a crucial step in protecting against gum disease, which is one of the leading causes of tooth loss. Teeth protected by crowns are at no less risk of gum disease than your other teeth, so it’s important to take steps to prevent it. If your child has a crown and is struggling with their oral hygiene, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist about kid-specific dental tips. Our team wants you and your child to be as healthy as possible. We’re happy to answer any and all of your questions!
Avoid using your crown as a tool.
Your dental crown’s durability depends upon what it’s made of, but most crowns are made of strong, stain-resistant materials that are designed to stand up to the same daily wear and tear as natural teeth. While some might assume that this means crowns are more durable than natural teeth, that isn’t the case! Natural teeth and dental crowns both have similar limits, so you should never attempt to use them as tools for things like opening packaging and cracking nuts. Getting that package open a few seconds faster certainly isn’t worth risking the time and money that it takes to replace your crown. Next time you think of doing this, be kind to your teeth and your wallet instead by grabbing a tool designed for the task at hand! This is a simple change, but it can drastically improve the longevity of your crown and protect your other teeth from dental injuries.
Be conscious of what you’re eating.
Since dental crowns are durable and stain resistant, they don’t require you to make many changes to your diet. But even dental crowns have their limits, so still be conscious of what you’re eating and how you’re eating it. The biggest risks with a crown are sticky and hard foods. You don’t need to avoid sticky foods altogether, but it’s best to chew on the side opposite your crown if possible. Sticky things can loosen your crown over time, potentially creating small gaps for bacteria to slip beneath.
Do your best to avoid biting down on particularly hard items like popcorn kernels. This runs the risk of chipping, cracking, or breaking the crown in the same way as your natural teeth! Similarly, you should avoid habits like chewing ice as a general rule, even if you don’t have crowns. If your child has undergone a pediatric crown procedure, it’s wise to watch what they eat until they understand how to take care of it properly.
Take steps to limit or eliminate bruxism.
Your teeth are strong—after all, they’re covered in the hardest known biological material—but they’re also brittle. So bruxism, which is when you habitually clench or grind your teeth, poses a risk of injury to both your dental crown and natural teeth. Thankfully there are several steps you can take to protect your crown from damage and help it last as long as possible! If the cause of your bruxism is stress, tension, or habit, using relaxation or meditation techniques could help you reduce your stress and eliminate the habit. Making changes to a packed calendar and building relaxing activities into your daily schedule can also relieve stress-related bruxism.
On the other hand, wearing a nightguard while you sleep can prevent you from clenching or grinding your teeth at night. You may need to play around with different methods to find one that significantly improves your bruxism. But once you do, it’s certainly worth it! Relieving bruxism can play a huge role in keeping your teeth healthy and ensuring that your crown lasts as long as it should. Plus there’s the added bonus of helping you cut down on other bruxism symptoms like toothaches, a sore jaw, and tension headaches.
Address sources of pain quickly and take steps to prevent them.
If you or your child is experiencing pain in a crowned tooth, it’s important to address it quickly. There are several potential causes for the pain, including damage, decay, gum recession, tooth sensitivity, and poor crown fit. It’s also not uncommon for children to have some tooth sensitivity after stainless steel crown placement because metal crowns are more heavily impacted by changes in temperature. Because of this, hot or cold foods and drinks can become more noticeable. Still, it’s always best to call your dentist and schedule an appointment when you experience dental pain, especially if it’s new.
While you wait for your appointment, there are several ways you can reduce or eliminate your pain. Over-the-counter pain medications are a great solution, but just make sure that you’re still mindful of your sore tooth—these medications can do such a good job that you forget to be careful! For a more natural alternative, you can try rinsing with warm saltwater. Make sure at your appointment to tell your dentist what you’ve taken for pain and when your last dose was.
Visit your dentist for regular checkups.
Everyone should visit the dentist every six months for a regular checkup, and having a dental crown is yet another reason to keep this recommendation. Over time, dental crowns can develop leakage, letting bacteria access the vulnerable tooth underneath. A crowned tooth can get a cavity without you even realizing it! This is just as true for kids’ dental crowns as it is for adults, so your kids need to receive these preventive appointments too. Additionally, it’s very easy for gum disease to go unnoticed at home. Visiting the dentist regularly gives them the chance to catch potential issues early.
Your hygienist will perform a professional cleaning, which actively helps prevent decay by removing buildup of hardened plaque called tartar, or calculus, that you can’t remove at home, even with the best oral hygiene routine. The result is all-around better oral health and crowns that look and feel great longer. Since these regular visits cut down on more involved dental treatments like large fillings and crown replacements, it’s easier on your schedule—and your budget too!
Dental crowns are an investment in the long-term health, function, and appearance of your smile, so it’s always best to do what you can to ensure that they’ll last as long as possible. Thankfully, with proper care, your dental crown can last for many years to come. If you’d like to learn more about crowns and how we handle them in pediatric dental care, call and schedule an evaluation with the We Make Kids Smile team today.