If you have a cracked, broken, or severely misshapen tooth, you might need a crown to protect it or a dental implant to replace it altogether. Deciding which procedure is best for you is important. The best way to determine is to consider your personal situation closely and discuss it with your oral surgeon.
What Is a Dental Crown?
A dental crown is essentially a cover or cap for a damaged tooth. Made from a variety of materials, including metal and porcelain, a crown protects your tooth from further damage, pain, and possible infection. There are several different types of crowns, including:
- Composite resin
- A combination of materials
When choosing your type of crown, your oral surgeon will take into consideration several factors, including:
- The location of your tooth
- Condition and position of your gum tissue
- Function of the damaged tooth
- How much natural tooth is remaining
- Color of your other teeth
Once your oral surgeon determines what type of crown is best for you, they will attach it to your tooth during a minor surgical procedure.
What Is Crown Lengthening?
For a dental crown to be effective, there must be enough existing tooth structure for the crown to adhere to. If you want to avoid an extraction and full dental implant, a crown lengthening procedure might be able to help. A crown lengthening includes recontouring gum tissue and sometimes even bone to expose more of a tooth’s surface to affix a crown. During the procedure, you will receive a local anesthetic for your comfort. Your oral surgeon will cut your gum surrounding your damaged tooth to expose the root and the bone, then clean the area and suture it. Once the area heals, your permanent crown will be affixed.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Crown?
A dental crown is a common procedure that many people elect to do for a variety of reasons. Pros include:
- Provide support for existing teeth that have been damaged by decay
- Prevent further tooth decay
- Help hold damaged teeth in place
- Can improve the shape and color of teeth
- Tooth must be filed down before a crown is placed
- Tooth sensitivity can occur
- Crowns are not permanent and can chip or break over time
What Is a Dental Implant?
A dental implant is a surgical implant placed into a patient’s jawbone and allowed to grow into the bone for a short period of time. A dental implant can be considered an artificial tooth root for a missing tooth and serves as a base structure for a crown or bridge. This type of tooth replacement most closely mimics natural teeth and is often the first choice of patients and oral surgeons alike if a patient presents with a severely damaged tooth. Made out of titanium, dental implants are permanent and rarely need future replacement. You might need a dental implant for a number of reasons, including:
- A broken or missing tooth
- A severely infected tooth
- Loose dentures
- Difficulty chewing food
- Don’t want to deal with dentures any longer
What Are the Pros and Cons of Dental Implants?
Just like crowns, there are benefits and drawbacks to dental implants. Pros include:
- Natural look – dental implants look and feel like real teeth and function like them, too!
- Reduces risk of bone loss
- Permanent solution
- Long timeline – the implant can take up to six months to fuse with your bone.
- Although low, there is a risk of infection since the implant goes into your bone.
- Cost – even if you have dental insurance, dental implants can be costly.
Should I Do Crown Lengthening and a Crown or Get a Dental Implant?
There are several factors to consider when deciding whether to have a crown lengthening procedure or a dental implant. This decision is best made between you and your oral surgeon, taking into consideration your specific situation. Together, you should consider the following:
- How much natural tooth exists
- If there is an infection present in the natural tooth or surrounding jaw
- The end goal of the procedure
Generally speaking, crown lengthening and crown placement are used for cosmetic reasons, and dental implants are used more often when there is significant breakage, decay, or injury to a tooth. If there is not enough natural tooth left to expose even with a crown lengthening, your oral surgeon will probably advise you to go with a dental implant. Dental implants last longer than a crown, and mimic natural teeth more closely. Due to the timeline required for a dental implant to fuse with your natural jaw, some patients may want to opt for the faster solution of crown lengthening and crown placement.
At DFW Oral Surgeons, we are proud to offer the latest technology in both crown lengthening and dental implants. When you visit our state-of-the-art facility, you will feel safe and comfortable to make the best decision for your smile alongside Dr. John C. Shillingburg. Contact us today to set up an appointment!