How Long Should My Dental Crown, Veneer or Bridge Last?
I am often asked how long a crown, bridge or veneer should last. Historically, the average lifespan of most types of cemented restorations is about 15 years…but that is an average. I’ve seen restorations that are 30+ years old that are in beautiful condition and should be left alone. I’ve also seen work that is only a year or two old that already needs to be replaced! What makes the difference?
There are many factors that play into how long dental work will last in your mouth. First of all, there is the quality of the restoration itself. For example, if a crown does not fit on the tooth correctly, or is mis-seated during cementation, then it will not have a good seal and will fail sooner than a crown that is seated correctly and is well sealed.
The second factor is home-care. The most common cause of a restoration needing to be replaced is developing a cavity underneath it. How well the patient takes care their restorations is a huge factor in determining how long they will last. A high-sugar diet and home-care that is lacking will lead to formation of cavities. Try as we might to have a perfect seal on a crown or bridge, on a microscopic level it will never be perfect. Bacteria do not need much space to start causing problems, so diligent and correct home-care techniques are critical. Reducing sugar intake deprives bacteria of their favorite source of nutrition and helps to slow them down. Regular cleanings and check-ups are also essential.
Thirdly, the material used in each restoration is very important. There is a trade-off in dentistry between beauty and strength, especially when it comes to cemented restorations. A gold crown is certainly the strongest restoration we can make, but it is also very unaesthetic. Additionally gold wears down easily and can cause uncomfortable cold sensitivity. In most cases these days we use all-ceramic materials, but we find that the prettiest materials are also the weakest and can easily break. The stronger ceramic materials hold up very well, but don’t look good if they are in the smile zone. Selecting the correct material for each unique situation requires skill, knowledge and experience. Some offices send crowns overseas to be made on the cheap where it is difficult to monitor which materials are really being used. We make the vast majority of our crowns, bridges and veneers right here in the office with top-of-the-line materials. Those few that we do send to an outside lab are sent to local labs that we know and trust, so there is never a question about the quality of the materials that go into our restorations.
Finally, how the patient uses their teeth can extend or limit how long a restoration will last. This is related to the type of material as well. If a weak ceramic is used on a molar (where you generate the most force), it will likely break or chip, especially if the patient is chewing on things they shouldn’t (like ice, hard candies, rocks…). Also, if the patient uses their teeth for things they shouldn’t, like opening or holding things, they are likely to damage either their natural teeth or their restoration. If you shouldn’t do something with a natural tooth, please don’t do it with a crown, bridge or veneer!
Here at Mountain Springs Advanced Dental we do everything we can to make sure the correct materials are used and that our quality is the highest in the area. We can also help to make sure you understand the tips and techniques for home-care that you need to do your part in making sure both your restored teeth and your natural teeth last as long as possible. Call us today to make an appointment!