The other day a patient asked me how long a dental crown (cap) should last. He had come into my Long Island office with two broken crowns that were about 15 years old. Well, the answer is that all crowns and patients are not alike. A crown should last 10-15 years, but I have a patient who had simply gorgeous gold crowns made some 40 years ago in California that still look as beautiful as they did the day they were inserted. And on the other hand, I have a patient who lost two crowns after only two years because they were poorly made by a dentist right here in Suffolk County.
For a crown to serve well, the dentist has to prepare the tooth properly so that all decay is removed and the tooth is the proper shape to retain a crown. He/she has to take a very accurate impression, make a well-fitting provisional crown, fit the crown properly when it comes back from the dental laboratory and cement the crown carefully. All of this takes careful attention to detail and cannot be rushed. All too often dentists skip a step or cut corners and this will affect the longevity of the crown – and ultimately the life of the tooth.
The dentist must also use the services of a superior dental laboratory that also pays attention to detail and uses finer materials. All too often, dentists who charge less for a crown, can do so because they send their work to inferior dental laboratories.
Another important factor in the life of a crown is the patient. The crown needs to be taken care of with proper brushing and flossing and regular visits to the dentist. If the patient neglects his/her dental health, this will definitely have an adverse effect on the crown. The patient’s systemic health is also a factor. Diabetes and smoking are associated with gum disease which in turn affects the crown and tooth.