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How to Care for Dental Crowns

What is a Dental Crown?

A dental crown is a type of dental restoration used to cover a damaged or decayed tooth. The crown encases the full visible portion of the tooth, restoring its shape, size, and strength. Dental crowns can be constructed from different materials, including porcelain, ceramic, gold, and metal alloys.

After a dental crown procedure, it's important to follow proper aftercare guidelines to ensure that the crown stays in place and that your mouth heals properly. Use this guide as a way to protect your dental investment along with tips to prolong the life of your new dental crown(s).

Dental crown aftercare tips

How Can You Prolong the Lifespan of Dental Crowns?

Since dental crowns are custom-made for you, you’re best to prolong their lifespan. Dental crowns typically last 15 years on the low end and can last up to 30 years if taken care of properly. See 5 simple tips to prolong the life of your new dental crown(s) below.

  • Practice good hygiene
  • Avoid Certain foods and activities
  • Watch for signs of infection
  • Visit your dentist for regular checkups
  • Use a nightguard if you grind your teeth

7 Must-Know Instructions for Aftercare of Dental Crowns

Follow the aftercare guidelines listed below to ensure your dental crown stays in place and functions properly. Remember to talk with your dentist if at any moment you have concerns or you’re experiencing any problems with your dental crown.

1. Take Pain Medication as Prescribed

After a dental crown procedure, you may experience discomfort or pain. You’ll likely be prescribed pain medication by your dentist to help manage the discomfort. Take the medication as directed and follow your dentist's instructions for managing the pain for the best results.

2. Avoid Certain Foods

Avoid foods that can damage your dental crown. These include hard, crunchy, or sticky foods, such as nuts, popcorn, and candy. Hard or sticky foods can cause the crown to come loose or even break. It's also best recommended to avoid very hot or very cold foods, as these can cause sensitivity or discomfort.

3. Use Over-The-Counter Mouthwash

To help keep your mouth clean and healthy after a dental crown procedure, use an over-the-counter fluoride-based mouthwash twice daily. This will help to kill bacteria and prevent tooth decay. Rinse your mouth with the mouthwash as directed, spitting it out instead of swallowing.

4. Brush and Floss Your Teeth Regularly

It's important to continue brushing and flossing your teeth on a regular basis after a dental crown procedure. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth twice a day. Be sure to floss at least once a day to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth. Use caution when brushing and flossing near your dental crown, as the area may be sensitive.

5. Avoid Using Tobacco Products

Smoking or using tobacco products can cause problems with dental crowns. Chemicals found in tobacco can stain the crown, while the heat from smoking can cause the crown to become loose. It's best to avoid smoking or using tobacco products altogether, but if you must use them, avoid doing so for at least 24 hours after the dental crown procedure.

6. Attend Follow-Up Appointments

After a dental crown procedure, it's important to attend follow-up appointments with your dentist. These appointments will allow your dentist to check the fit and function of the crown, along with making any needed adjustments. Follow-up appointments also serve as a great opportunity to ask questions or raise any concerns you may have about the crown or your oral health.

7. Use Good Oral Hygiene Habits

Good oral hygiene habits go a long way to maintaining the health of your dental crown. In conjunction with brushing and flossing regularly, avoid chewing on hard objects, such as ice or pens, and avoid clenching or grinding your teeth. These habits can cause damage to the crown and can even lead to other oral health problems.

Temporary Crown Aftercare Differences

Temporary crowns are typically made of acrylic or composite material and used as a placeholder before a permanent crown is put in place. They are not as strong as permanent crowns and are more prone to breaking or coming loose. Gentleness while eating and brushing with a temporary crown is essential, along with avoiding hard or sticky foods.

After getting a temporary crown, your dentist will likely provide you with specific instructions for care. This may include avoiding certain types of food and drinks, using special oral hygiene products, and avoiding activities that could put extra pressure on the crown. If your temporary crown breaks, contact your dentist immediately as it will need to be replaced as soon as possible to avoid having the adjacent teeth shift. If a shift occurs, it is possible your new crown will not fit properly and will require an additional procedure.

Permanent Crown Aftercare Differences

Permanent crowns are made of more durable materials such as porcelain, ceramic, or metal. They are meant to be a long-term solution for restoring a damaged tooth. After getting a permanent crown, it is still important to follow your dentist's instructions for care and maintenance along with the basic tips mentioned above. Avoid sticky foods for 24 hours. After that, return to normal eating. You may experience tenderness and sensitivity for several weeks, but it should quickly disappear. Be sure to attend regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist to ensure that the crown is in good condition and to identify and address any potential issues.

Frequently Asked Dental Crown Aftercare Questions

What can you not do after getting a crown?

  • Chewing on hard or sticky foods
  • Biting or chewing on the crown
  • Using tobacco products
  • Grinding your teeth
  • Using mouthwash with alcohol

Be sure to avoid any activities or habits that could cause trauma to the crown or increase the risk of infection.

How long does it take a tooth to heal after a crown?

It typically takes about 2 weeks for a tooth to heal after a crown procedure. During this time, the tooth will adjust to the crown and the surrounding gums will heal. Most people can return to their normal activities and diet within a few days after a crown procedure, but it's important to avoid hard, sticky, or chewy foods that could damage the crown.

How long after a crown is cemented can I eat?

It's typically recommended to wait at least 24 hours after a crown is cemented before eating. This allows the cement to be fully set and keeps the crown securely in place. If you must eat, be sure to stick to a soft diet and avoid hard, crunchy, or sticky foods.

What should I do after getting a permanent crown?

  1. Avoid biting or chewing on hard or sticky foods for the first 24 hours after the crown is placed. This will give the cement time to set, keeping the crown securely in place.
  2. Practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly to keep the area around the crown clean. This will help prevent the buildup of plaque and bacteria, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
  3. Avoid grinding or clenching your teeth, as this can put extra pressure on the crown and cause it to become loose or damaged. If you have a habit of grinding your teeth, a night guard to protect your crown is recommended.
  4. If the crown feels loose or uncomfortable, contact your dentist right away. It is important to address any issues with the crown as soon as possible to avoid further damage.
  5. Be sure to attend regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist for inspections of the crown and to identify any potential issues.

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