As one of the most reliable and cosmetically superior dental materials, porcelain is often the restoration of choice for dental crowns and veneers. With well-crafted porcelain crowns, you can achieve a smile that looks perfectly natural, even improving your appearance. As effective as they are, though, porcelain restorations are not impervious to damage. Various factors can result in chips, cracks, and general wear and tear that require crowns to be replaced.
To help our Knoxville patients extend the life of their crowns, we offer the following information on the causes of potential damage, as well as what you can do to prevent it.
How Do Crowns Sustain Damage?
When preserved and cared for correctly, porcelain crowns can last upwards of 15 years and sometimes decades. Porcelain is exceptionally resistant to stains and erosion, allowing it to typically outlast similar tooth-colored restorations such as composite resin. Still, porcelain is brittle when under excessive pressure, especially from an unnatural angle.
Porcelain crowns may become chipped from sudden stress or trauma, or they may incur damage gradually from various forces over time. Either may result in the crown becoming structurally compromised, requiring replacement. Here are some common causes of damage to porcelain crowns:
- Bite alignment: Crowns are built to withstand the daily pressures of chewing and biting, but this may be jeopardized by an uneven distribution of pressure, namely from an uneven bite pattern. If too much stress is exerted upon the crown from other teeth, it is more likely to crack.
- Teeth grinding: Habitual teeth grinding, called bruxism, can pose a risk of damaging your teeth and restorations alike. This is typically caused at night, when people are unable to consciously control the clenching of their jaws.
- Injury: Sudden impact to a crown, such as from an accident or contact sport, can very likely cause it to break. This can also damage the underlying tooth, which is already weakened.
- Chewing on hard objects: Anything that can be expected to chip natural tooth enamel can also pose a risk to porcelain. Be aware of what goes into your mouth and its potential for dental damage.
- General wear: Most patients can expect their crowns to simply wear down over the years. Small chips and erosion may not be visible at first, but these bits of damage add up. Eventually, a crown can become reduced in size or shape to the extent that it no longer offers adequate protection or is cosmetically unappealing.
Preventing Damage to Crowns
After identifying possible sources of damage, the next step is to take the right precautionary measures. Depending on your lifestyle and habits, your cosmetic dentist may suggest some or all of the following ways to protect your crowns:
- Proper hygiene: Even when a crown remains undamaged, it is still important to remember that a tooth exists underneath it. For this reason, daily hygiene is equally important for dental crowns as any other teeth. In the event that disease or decay penetrates the crown and reaches the tooth, the restoration will have to be removed and replaced. If not treated early, the tooth itself may need to be extracted and replaced altogether.
- Avoid bad dental habits: Don’t use your teeth on anything that is not intended for consumption. Nail biting or using teeth to open objects such as plastic containers can easily lead to chipping. Even food items such as hard candies or ice can be harmful if recklessly bitten into.
- Wear a mouth guard: If you play any contact sports or engage in similarly risky physical activity, a mouth guard is invaluable for your overall dental safety. Brief but forceful trauma can crack teeth and restorations, sometimes knocking them out completely.
- Consider a night guard for bruxism: If you suffer from teeth grinding, a custom night guard can help you sleep comfortably while protecting your teeth. Similar to a mouth guard, this device can prevent a number of dental problems, including erosion, chips, and jaw pain (TMJ disorder).
Make Your Porcelain Crowns Last
In addition to these precautions at home, a good way to protect your restorations is through routine dental check-ups. With a professional cleaning and assessment of your teeth, you can be sure to catch problems before they progress into costly complications. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.