Finding the best treatment method for you.
When one of your teeth is suffering from major decay, navigating the different treatments that restorative dentistry offers can be a little overwhelming, but it’s certainly worth it. Choosing the right treatment will help you regain the function, health, and appearance of your teeth for years to come. While you’re likely familiar with dental crowns and dental implants, you may be a little spotty on the details of these treatments, which can make it hard to determine which is right for you. To help you decide, we’ve provided a more in-depth look at each of these treatments and when they’re used.
What are dental crowns and how do they work?
Dental crowns are tooth-shaped, porcelain restorations. They fit over your natural tooth to protect it from further damage while restoring its function and appearance. They can be used to treat teeth that have suffered extensive decay or a severe injury, such as a deep crack or major break. The porcelain crown can be cemented over your tooth as long as there’s enough healthy natural tooth structure left to support it. The porcelain material used in dental crowns is durable and even more stain-resistant than your natural teeth, and each porcelain crown is designed specifically for you. You can choose its size, shape, and shade to ensure that it fits comfortably and blends perfectly into your smile. Crowns are being used more and more in the earlier stages of tooth decay now, as research shows that they do more to prevent decay than a filling.
What are dental implants and how do they work?
Dental implants are used to replace teeth that have been lost entirely due to decay or injury. Each implant consists of a titanium metal rod that’s embedded directly into your jawbone and then bonded with a tooth replacement option, such as a porcelain crown, bridge, or dentures. This makes them an incredibly versatile treatment that can replace a single tooth to a full set of teeth. Dental implants work by mimicking a natural tooth root, giving your restoration more stability, and helping it feel more natural than any other tooth replacement options. The titanium metal even encourages bone growth, an ability that roots implants even more firmly in place and allows them to prevent and sometimes even reverse the bone loss in your jaw that begins when you lose a natural tooth.
Additionally, implants are capped with custom-made porcelain tooth restorations to ensure that they look completely natural, seamlessly blending in with your existing teeth. When you lose a tooth, porcelain implants are the next best thing to getting your natural tooth back, as they provide stability, comfort, and long-term health benefits that other tooth replacement options can’t provide.
What’s the process for receiving a dental crown?
When you receive a dental crown, you can either get a traditional dental crown or a single day crown. Traditional dental crowns take several weeks and a couple of visits to our office to receive because they’re milled in an outside lab, but single day crowns can be designed, milled, and placed on your tooth in a single visit to our office. Whichever method you choose, the first step in the process will be for Dr. Lang to numb your mouth and shave your tooth down on the top and sides to accommodate the crown. Next, he’ll take a mold of your teeth; if you’re getting a traditional crown, this will be done with dental putty, and the impression will be sent off to a lab to mill your permanent crown. In the meantime, you’ll be fitted with a temporary crown. When your permanent crown has arrived at our office, we’ll call you and set up a second appointment for Dr. Lang to place it on your tooth.
If you’re getting a single-visit crown, however, your impression will be done using a digital scanner, which will create a detailed 3D image of your teeth in just a few seconds. Dr. Lang will then design your crown using the 3D image of your teeth, ensuring that it looks natural and fits into your bite, and then will have it milled right in our office. Once your permanent crown is ready, Dr. Lang will place it, checking your bite a few times to ensure that the crown is lined up properly and fitting naturally.
What is the process for receiving a dental implant?
A dental implant takes multiple procedures over the course of several months, as you’ll need time to heal between each procedure. You may need a tooth extraction or bone graft before you can start the implant process, which will lengthen your overall treatment plan, but once you’re ready to start, the first procedure simply involves implanting the titanium metal post itself and sewing your gums closed over it to encourage healing. Dr. Lang will numb your mouth to ensure you don’t feel any pain, and although it may sound intimidating, the recovery process isn’t difficult; most patients say it hurts less than a tooth extraction.
You’ll need to wait six to 12 weeks to allow your jaw to heal and for the bone to grow around the implant post, holding it more firmly in place. Once you’ve healed, Dr. Lang will numb your mouth again and perform a second procedure to place the abutment, which is the piece of your implant that will support the tooth prosthesis. You’ll need to heal for about another two weeks before Dr. Lang performs the third and final procedure to place the porcelain crown, bridge, or other tooth replacement option on your implant.
How do the two differ?
While dental crowns and dental implants can both be used when a tooth has suffered extensive decay, they do so in entirely different circumstances. Dental crowns are designed to save and protect your natural tooth, but dental implants are designed to replace it. Additionally, the two treatments are very different when it comes to treatment time and cost. Depending on whether you get a traditional or a same day crown, your crown will either take a few weeks or a couple of hours to receive, and most dental insurance plans cover porcelain crowns to some extent. A dental implant, however, can easily take six months or more to complete, are much more expensive than crowns, and are rarely covered by dental insurance. If you’re looking into getting an implant, it’s worth asking our office about financing options and checking with your medical insurance, as they may reimburse you for part of the cost because dental implants are considered a surgical procedure.
Under what circumstances would one be more beneficial than the other?
Any time you can save your natural tooth, it’s best for your long-term oral health to do so—plus, it’s a less expensive and less invasive process. As a result, if you can save a severely damaged or decayed tooth using a dental crown, that’s almost certainly going to be the best option for you. Dental implants become your best option when your tooth is so decayed that it can’t be saved, when it has broken so severely that there isn’t enough natural tooth structure left to support a crown, or if you’ve already lost the tooth you’re looking to replace.
Dental implants and dental crowns go about their purpose in different ways and under different circumstances, but each can be an essential part of regaining the function and health of your teeth as well as reclaiming confidence in your smile. If you’d like to learn more about your treatment options, feel free to call and schedule an appointment with Dr. Lang at any time.