A dental crown is a restorative option for a tooth that is damaged in some way. The tooth may be severely decayed, cracked, chipped, or broken, but if the root of the tooth is still intact a crown may be able to save it. 

If you have a tooth that needs a crown, you may have some questions about it, such as: how long do dental crowns last? Is a crown worth it or should the tooth be pulled? Learn the answers to these questions and more about dental crowns. 

What is a Dental Crown?

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cover that is placed over a damaged tooth. When there is not enough tooth enamel left for a filling, or if a tooth has a crack or large chip, a crown can restore the tooth, leaving the natural root intact for support. The existing enamel must be reduced somewhat to make room for the crown to fit over the top. It is permanently bonded in place over the tooth. 

What Are Dental Crowns Made Of?

Dental crowns can be made of porcelain or metal. The options include: 

  • Porcelain. Porcelain is a type of ceramic that is specially designed for dental prosthetics. It resembles natural tooth enamel in text and sheen and is strong enough to withstand the force of biting and chewing. 
  • Porcelain fused to metal. Porcelain can be fused to metal for a stronger crown that also looks natural. 
  • Metal alloys. Metal crowns are one of the strongest options available. They are ideal for back molars that bear the brunt of the chewing force and are not highly visible when you smile. 
  • Gold alloys. Gold crowns provide the strength of other metal alloys and are sometimes requested by patients who want a specific type of look. 

How Long Do Dental Crowns Last?

On average, porcelain crowns last between 10-15 years. They may last longer with good care and maintenance. Metal crowns can last even longer, sometimes for the rest of your life. Appearance is often a big factor for patients, and porcelain crowns look very natural, but may not last as long as metal crowns. Depending on the location of your tooth, you may choose one or the other. The quality of the material will also have an impact on how long your crown will last. 

Is a Crown Worth It? 

Some patients wonder if a crown is worth it or if they should just have the tooth pulled. We never recommend extracting a tooth unless it is too decayed or damaged to be saved. There are many benefits to restorations: 

  • Save the natural root. The biggest benefit of a dental crown is that it allows the natural root of the tooth to remain in place for support. The tooth stays securely in place with a crown over it.  
  • Looks natural. A dental crown can be made of porcelain that matches the color, size, and shape of your tooth for a natural appearance. 
  • Avoid replacement. A crown allows you to avoid replacing the tooth with a bridge or dental implant. 
  • Save money. Replacement teeth cost more than dental crowns, which means you can save money by getting a crown. 
  • Keep your teeth in proper alignment. Getting a crown rather than pulling the tooth will keep your other teeth in proper alignment. Pulling the tooth and leaving an empty space can cause your other teeth to shift out of place. 

Dr. Cusanello of Lexington Prosthodontics is a highly trained prosthodontist who provides restorative dentistry services, including crowns, dental bridges, dental implants, and more.