How Long Does a Dental Crown Usually Last?

A dental crown is a custom-fitted covering or “cap” that is placed over a tooth to restore its shape, size, strength, and appearance. When a tooth is significantly damaged or decayed, a crown may be recommended to protect the tooth from further damage and to maintain functionality. At Smith Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in North Carolina, we can offer you the newest, strongest and most esthetic crowns available to ensure not only function, but also a flawless, lifelike, natural smile.

The Lifespan of a Dental Crown

The longevity of a crown depends on the material used to make it, the placement of the crown, and the individual’s dental hygiene practices. On average, a well-maintained crown can last between 5 and 15 years, but with exceptional care and under ideal conditions, some crowns can last a lifetime.

Materials Matter

Dental crowns are made from various materials, each with unique properties and longevity: Here at Smith family Dental, we educate our patients on the properties of the different materials and allow our patients to choose the material that best suits their needs.


This material mimics the natural look of teeth and is preferred for front teeth restorations. Porcelain crowns can last 5 to 15 years or more.


Ceramic offers a blend of durability and aesthetics and is suitable for people with metal allergies. Ceramic crowns have become very popular due to their lifelike esthetic qualities and strength.

Gold and Metal Alloys

Gold, platinum, or base-metal alloys like cobalt-chromium and nickel-chromium are incredibly durable and resistant to wear, often lasting 20 years or more. Although these crowns have many superior functional qualities, they are used less often due to the unnatural appearance of the metal. Most patients choose ceramics over metal crowns for their superior esthetic qualities.

Porcelain Fused to Metal (PFM)

This crown type combines the strength of metal with the aesthetics of porcelain. Though these crowns were once very common, they are seldom used today due to the superior esthetic and strength qualities of newer ceramics.

Dental Hygiene and Care

The care you give to your crowns plays an especially critical role in how long they last. Regular brushing and flossing can prevent decay at the crown’s edges which is often the reason for crown failure.

Do I Need a Crown?

Not every damaged tooth needs a crown. Typically, a crown may be recommended if you:

  • Have a tooth that is significantly weakened or cracked
  • Need a large filling that doesn’t leave much of the tooth intact
  • Requires a bridge and need a crown to support it
  • Have had a root canal treatment
  • Wish to cover a discolored or badly shaped tooth for cosmetic reasons

Continuing with proper oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups is always crucial to monitor the condition of your crowns and your overall dental health. With advancements in dental technology, the materials and techniques used for dental crowns are constantly improving, enhancing their durability and functionality.

Installing a Crown: What Goes Into It?

Preparing the Tooth
The process of getting a crown begins with preparing the tooth. This usually involves reshaping the tooth to make room for the crown and taking an impression to ensure a precise fit. The goal is to create a stable and snug foundation for the crown that mimics the natural tooth as closely as possible.

Temporary Crown
After preparing the tooth, a temporary crown is typically placed to protect the tooth while the permanent crown is being made. This temporary crown is fashioned from a mold of your tooth taken during the first visit and is not as durable as the permanent crown will be.

Crafting the Permanent Crown
The impression of your tooth will be sent to a dental lab where your permanent crown will be crafted. This process can take a few weeks, during which your tooth will be protected by the temporary crown.

Fitting the Permanent Crown
Once your permanent crown is ready, you’ll return to us for fitting. During this visit, the temporary crown is removed and the permanent crown is adjusted for fit and color, ensuring that it blends seamlessly with your natural teeth.

Cementing the Crown
Finally, the crown is cemented into place once both you and we are satisfied with how it looks and feels. Proper cementing is crucial to prevent bacteria from entering and to ensure the crown stays in place.

Caring for Your Crown
To maximize the lifespan of your crown, you should continue with good oral hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing twice a day. Chewing on hard foods, ice, or other hard objects can damage your crown, just as it can your natural teeth, so it’s best to avoid this to maintain the integrity of the crown.

If you grind your teeth at night, you may be advised to wear a night guard to protect your crown and other teeth from excessive wear. Regular visits to the dentist for check-ups and cleanings are also essential. We can check the condition of your crown and the underlying tooth to catch any potential problems early.

Potential Issues and Solutions

Crown Loosening
Sometimes, a crown can become loose over time. This can be due to a deterioration of the cement due to bacteria or decay. If a crown feels loose, it’s important to contact us right away.

Chips or Cracks
Porcelain crowns, in particular, can chip. Small chips can be repaired while the crown remains in your mouth, but larger or multiple chips may require a new crown.

Crown Falls Out
If a crown falls out, it’s important to contact us immediately. In some cases, the crown can be re-cemented, but if the tooth underneath has decayed, additional treatment may be necessary.

When to Replace a Crown

You See Signs of Wear and Tear
Over time, even the sturdiest crowns can show signs of wear. This is particularly common in crowns that are subject to heavy bite forces, like those on the molars. Look for signs of thinning, cracking, or wearing away of the material, which can indicate that a crown needs replacing.

There’s Recurrent Decay
Crowns themselves don’t decay, but the tooth underneath can. If decay develops at the margin where the crown meets the tooth, you may need a new crown to address the decay and restore the integrity of the tooth.

You Have Cosmetic Concerns
For crowns that are visible when you smile, cosmetic concerns such as discoloration or an outdated appearance might be reasons for replacement, particularly if the crown is made of porcelain, which can stain over time.

Technological Advancements
Dentistry benefits from continuous advancements in technology and materials, which is a great thing! If you have an older crown made with older techniques or materials, you might consider replacing it with newer, more durable, or more aesthetically pleasing options.

Our Commitment to Your Dental Health
At Smith Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, we are dedicated to providing you with comprehensive dental solutions that cater to your unique needs. We understand that the decision to get a crown is significant, and we are here to ensure that you receive the utmost care throughout the process.

With our all-inclusive services, including orthodontics, dental implants, cosmetic dentistry, and treatments for TMD and sleep apnea, we’re here to support you and your family’s dental health at every stage of life. Our locations in Sneads Ferry, Porters Neck, Surf City, Hampstead, Jacksonville, and Goldsboro offer the convenience you deserve, so contact Smith Family and Cosmetic Dentistry now for the best in quality care.

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