Whether you have just had a new permanent dental crown installed or are considering getting one you are probably wondering, how long do crowns last?
There are multiple factors that can play into how long a permanent crown can last. From staying on top of your oral hygiene to nighttime teeth grinding, we cover all of the factors in this article. At the end, we also provide answers to your most frequently asked questions about dental crowns, so buckle up and let us get started.
What a dental crown is and what it does
There are two types of dental crowns – temporary and permanent. Both types of crowns serve the same function, which is to seal the tooth off and protect it from tooth decay, chipping and other forms of damage.
The primary difference between temporary and permanent dental crowns is revealed in the name; permanent crowns are permanent (Or at least, as close to permanent as possible), while temporary crowns are temporary. Temporary crowns are designed to last just a couple of weeks while the patient is waiting for a more sturdy, permanent crown.
Dental crowns are usually installed on teeth that are fragile or have been operated on. For example, your dentist is likely to put a crown on a tooth that has had a root canal procedure performed on it.
Modern dental crowns are made of a number of different materials – porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, zirconia, gold or silver amalgam or tooth coloured composite resin are the most common.
A crown differs from a dental filling in that it covers the entire tooth completely while a filling only replaces a small part of the tooth. With crowns, the underlying tooth has usually been filed down first to permit the crown to fit perfectly over the top of it.
Prevents tooth decay and chipping
A dental crown can protect a damaged or fragile tooth from further decay, chipping, cracking and other forms of damage.
Once a tooth has been extensively operated on – for example, after having a root canal or several large fillings – the tooth inevitably becomes more vulnerable. A crown functions as a protective shield, keeping bacteria out and protecting the tooth from coming into direct contact with the other teeth, as well as hard foods or anything else that could cause it to chip or crack.
Helps with sensitivity
Weak teeth are more prone to being sensitivity, but a dental crown can help prevent that by shielding the tooth from anything that may cause cold sensitivity or any other form of discomfort, such as chewing hard foods or toothbrushing.
Mimics a natural tooth
Crown material can detract from this point, but most modern dental crowns mimic natural teeth almost to perfection. Ceramic crowns or crowns that are made from zirconia or composite resin are usually preferable, as these materials come the closest to looking like natural teeth.
A crown mimics a natural tooth both visually and functionally. While you are going to have to be careful about how and what you chew with your temporary crown in place, once the temporary has been replaced with a permanent crown, you’re free to chew, brush and otherwise use your teeth with crowns in exactly the same way as your natural teeth.
Crowned teeth don’t only look and funcition but also feel very much like regular teeth. When you first get a dental crown installed, you are of coure going to notice that its texture is a little different than the rest of your teeth. But after a short while, you will have gotten completely used to it.
It may also reassure you that, in most cases, no one else will be able to tell if you have dental crowns.
How long to expect a temporary crown versus a permanent dental crown to last
As the name indicates, temporary crowns are not built to last.
They are in fact meant to last only a week or two. Temporary crowns are only there to protect your tooth while it is awaiting its permanent crown. For this reason, temporary crowns are nowhere near as sturdy as their permanent counterparts, which can last several decades, provided that you take good care of them.
In some cases, temporary crowns may fall out of your mouth ahead of your scheduled permanent crown install, in which case it needs to be replaced to prevent infection or damage to the underlying tooth.
Permanent crowns can last decades, or even a lifetime if you are lucky, and if you take proper care of them. Having said that, the average lifespan of a permanent crown is around 15 years.
Fortunately, a crown replacement is a relatively simple procedure. Because the underlying tooth has already been treated (whether with root canal therapy or some other restorative dental procedure) and smoothed over. It is, in other words, ready to receive a new crown whenever the old crown has been worn down.
What influences how long dental crowns last
As already hinted at, there are numerous factors that play into how long your dental crown is going to last. Some of these factors are within your control while others are not.
In this section of the article, we are going to go over all of the top influencing factors that can influence the longevity of your dental crown.
Oral hygiene habits
First and foremost, the right dental care and oral hygiene practices are foundational. Practicing proper oral hygiene is the single most crucial factor that determines how long your dental crown is going to last.
The wonderful thing about this is that you have the most important key to the longevity of your new dental crown already firmly in your own hand.
Taking excellent care of your teeth is the best preventive measure and the best solution to most dental problems, including extending the lifespan of your dental crowns.
Teeth grinding is hard not only on your teeth, but also on your dental crowns.
So, if you are one of the many people who grind their teeth at night, this is going to have an impact on how long your dental crowns last.
Dental crown material
Dental crowns can be bade from a huge variety of different materials. Some of the most popular types of crowns are metal crowns, porcelain and ceramic crowns, zirconia crowns and composite resin crowns.
Generally speaking, metal crowns or porcelain crowns that are bonded to metal are the most sturdy and long-lasting option. Of course, the material itself is not a guarantee that the crown will last a lifetime, but it is one factor you can easily influence by choosing a material for your crown.
Having said that, longevity is not the only thing worth considering when choosing your crown material – you should also consider the cost (a gold crown is more expensive than a porcelain crown, which again is more expensive than a crown made from composite plastic or resin).
But while they can boast the longest life spans, metal crowns can also, in rare cases, cause allergic reactions. By contrast, porcelain crowns are both relatively sturdy and completely natural.
Accidents and illness
Yet another factor that people rarely factor in is accidents and unforeseen events, such as illness.
Just like natural teeth, dental crowns are vulnerable to accidental damage. Whether you walk into a doorframe or get punched in the mouth, direct and forceful impact can knock your crowns loose or knock them out of your mouth entirely. Of course, accidents cannot be accounted for or expected, but they are another potential reason why your crowns may not last you a lifetime.
Illness can also impact your dental crowns. If, say, you have gum disease and your gum line recedes, this can mean that both your dental crowns and your natural teeth become loose.
Dental crown longevity FAQ
Can a crown last a lifetime?
In rare cases, yes, a dental crown can last a lifetime.
How long your dental crown is going to last depends on multiple factors, which makes it rather impossible to predict precisely how long your crown is going to last. Here are some of the most important factors to consider:
Your age. Most dental crowns last approximately 15 years, so if you are eighty-five when you get the crown installed, there is a good chance it will last you a lifetime. If, on the other hand, you get a dental crown at eighteen, you will probably need it replaced several times over the course of your life.
The crown material. The material your crown is made of is a tremendously important factor in how long your crowned tooth is going to last. The most sturdy and long-lasting crowns are made of metal, but besides longevity, there are other considerations that should play into whether or not you choose a metal crown. Metal crowns may last the longest, but they can also cause allergic recations in some cases. Besides, some may prefer the look or feel of composite resin or porcelain crowns.
Teeth grinding. If you grind your teeth at night, it goes without saying that you are going to wear down your dental crown much faster. To learn more about nighttime teeth grinding and how to prevent it, read our article here.
Accidents and illness. Impact accidents or illnesses that affect the firmness of your gum line can also impact whether or not your dental crown can last you a lifetime.
How do you know when a crown needs to be replaced?
It is important to get your dental crown replaced whenever it has been worn down.
While crowns can last a lifetime in rare cases, it is more typical that they last a decade or two, after which the old crown will have to be removed, and a new crown installed in its place.
When your dental crown needs to be replaced, you will know because: Your gums start receding around the crowned tooth. You experience pain and swelling around the crowned tooth. Your crown has visible signs of wear and tear, or it has become chipped or damaged. Or, your crown is at least a decade old.
How long does a crown on your teeth last?
How long a dental crown can last varies wildly depending on numerous factors, including the crown material, whether or not you grind your teeth and whether or not you have any accidents or illnesses that impact your teeth or affect your gum tissue.
Having said that, on average, a crown lasts somewhere between ten and fifteen years. If you want to extend the lifespan of your dental crowns, stay on top of your oral hygiene, wear a mouth guard to avoid teeth grinding at night, and choose a long-lasting crown material, preferably metal.
How many times can a crown be replaced?
There is no limit to how many times you can have a dental crown replacement.
How long do dental crowns last? On average, 10-15 years.
Fortunately, there is much you can do to ensure the longevity of your dental crowns. The best thing you can do is to take great care of your oral health and to stay on top of your oral hygiene habits. Brushing and flossing twice a day truly is the key to oral health and wellbeing – including keeping your dental implants and crowns in tip top shape for as long as possible.
If you are someone who grinds his or her teeth at night, you might also want to consider getting your hands on a mouth guard. Teeth grinding is very hard on the teeth – and we are talking both your natural teeth and your crowns.
Finally, you it is within your power to ensure a long-lasting crown right from the get go. Simply choose a sturdy crown material, such as porcelain, zirconia or metal. Porcelain crowns are a popular choice because their texture and appearance mimics teeth so perfectly, but metal crowns are generally considered to be the longest lasting.