Painful Teeth? Crowns May Help!

By Dr. Thomas Martin

Toothaches can come on slowly, with increasing pain over the course of a few days, weeks, or even months. Sometimes toothaches occur instantly, accompanying an injury. The pain they cause ranges from mild to acute, throbbing to intermittent. One thing is for sure, though. Toothaches disrupt life. If you’re suffering from painful teeth, crowns may help.

At Martin Dental Studio in Madison, TN, Dr. Thomas Martin provides patients of all ages with general dentistry, modern technology, and the latest in patient comfort measures. After a comprehensive exam and digital x-rays, Dr. Martin will diagnose your tooth pain and explain treatment options. Don’t let a toothache ruin your day. Call 615-865-2260 today to schedule an appointment.

In today’s blog, you’ll learn some of the most common causes of toothaches and how a dental crown can restore a damaged tooth while relieving pain for good. We’ll review:

  • Dental Crowns: Indications and Fabrication
  • Types of Dental Injuries that Warrant Crowns
  • The Process of Getting a Crown
  • Care and Maintenance of Teeth Crowns

Dental Crowns: Definition and Fabrication

A dental crown, sometimes called a cap, is a restoration that covers the entire visible surface of a crown: all sides and the biting surface. This structure supports a damaged tooth on all sides, offering reinforcement so that the tooth can feel, function, and look like it used to, before the injury. 

Crowns are made in a dental laboratory by a dental ceramist or technician. The labs we rely on have a reputation for excellence. We fabricate crowns from metal, porcelain fused to metal (PFM), porcelain/ceramic, or zirconia. Dr. Martin prefers to place all-wite restorations so that patients’ smiles retain a natural appearance, so he prefers not to place all-metal crowns unless necessary.

In the past, we had to use all-metal crowns on molars that endure intense pressure when chewing food. Today, however, we can opt for zirconia, an extremely strong substance that looks like natural tooth enamel.

Types of Dental Injuries that Warrant Crowns

Accidents happen all the time–usually when we least expect them. For instance, you may be enjoying a delightful meal with friends when CRACK! You bite down on a peppercorn and feel your tooth crack.

Or you bite into an apple and experience acute pain in your front teeth. Pain caused by a dental crack is known as cracked tooth syndrome, or CTS.

In some cases, a tooth can become increasingly painful without any visible signs of damage. Cracks may be tiny, invisible to the naked eye, or deep, extending into the tooth’s root where you cannot see. 

Just because you can’t see a problem doesn’t mean it’s not there.  Left untreated, a deep crack can result in a crack that extends all the way through the tooth, segmenting horizontally or vertically, so that the tooth requires replacement. If you have pain in one or more teeth, crowns may be indicated. 

With digital dental x-rays, Dr. Martin can see dental damage below the gum line, as well as between and behind teeth. Digital zoom allows him to see microscopic dental fractures and web-like surface cracks called crazing. All of these issues, once diagnosed, can be effectively treated with crowns. 

Here’s another situation that may sound familiar. If you had a large dental filling placed 10 years ago, but now the tooth feels painful, the filling may have failed. Dental restorations aren’t made to last forever. If the seal bonding a filling to a tooth becomes compromised, bacteria can move beneath the filling and create a new cavity.

Tooth wear is another reason for crowns, particularly on molars. Bruxism, the condition of habitually clenching and grinding teeth, and TMJ disorder can lead to tooth wear of molars. The biting surfaces are literally worn away as teeth on the top and bottom arches rub against one another. Ultimately, tooth wear can lead to malocclusion–the condition in which upper and lower teeth don’t fit together properly when the mouth is closed. Malocclusion can result in TMJ disorder, jaw pain, and headaches. 

It’s important that dental work is replaced when it begins to wear out, or additional damage can occur. We oftentimes replace large, old fillings with dental crowns when a tooth is structurally compromised. 

In general, crowns are ideal for restoring teeth with:

  • Large cavities
  • Large, failed fillings
  • Crazing
  • Large chips
  • Cracks of any size, direction, and shape
  • Thin/worn tooth enamel

We also use crowns attached to dental implants for single-tooth replacement.

The Process of Getting a Crown

A crown requires two clinical visits after Dr. Martin diagnoses an issue. At the first appointment, Dr. Martin will prepare your tooth by removing existing dental work and any tooth decay. Next, he’ll prepare the tooth by shaping it to receive a dental crown.

We will make impressions of the prepared tooth and opposing teeth, then select the color for your crown from a shade chart. Dr. Martin will attach a temporary restoration to the tooth. This restoration is not intended to last more than a few weeks to a month. If it falls out, use a dot of toothpaste to reseat it and call our office.

At your next appointment, we’ll replace the temporary one with your custom, permanent dental crown. A strong cement will bond the new crown to your prepared tooth. Once the crown is secured, Dr. Martin will evaluate your occlusion to ensure a proper fit. You’ll leave this visit with your new crown in place.

Care and Maintenance of Teeth Crowns

The life of a dental crown depends in part upon the patient’s oral and overall health. Practicing excellent dental hygiene at home and visiting Dr. Martin every six months for checkups and cleanings will help preserve your oral health, as well as your dental restorations. Also, remember to wear a mouth guard when playing sports and, if you grind your teeth, use a nightguard to protect them against wear. 

The longevity of dental crowns also depends upon the material used to fabricate them:

  • Porcelain fused to metal – 5 to 15 years
  • All-porcelain or ceramic – 15+ years
  • All metal – 5 to 15 years
  • Zirconia – 15 to 20 years

Care for dental crowns as if they were natural teeth. Brush morning and evening, and floss once a day before brushing. If you notice any change in the appearance of gum tissue around a crown, or the tooth becomes painful, call our office for an appointment. 

Excellent Dental Care in Madison

Are you experiencing pain in one or more teeth? Crowns might be the solution. Call Martin Dental Studio in Madison, TN, at  615-865-2260 today to schedule an appointment. We are accepting new patients of all ages and look forward to meeting you.