home care tips for dental crowns

Post Op Care: Your New Dental Crown

If you have a weak tooth due to a large amount of decay, a cracked tooth, or recently had a root canal, our Raleigh dentist will likely recommend that you have a dental crown (sometimes referred to as a “cap”) placed over the tooth to protect it. To do this, you’ll typically go through two separate procedures.  After the first appointment, you’ll have a temporary crown to take care of and at your final visit, you’ll leave with your permanent crown.  These restorations are different from each other and need to be cared for appropriately.



Getting a Dental Crown: The First Step


Also known as the prep appointment, the first step to getting a crown is to reduce the circumference of the tooth to make room for the cap to fit over it. You tooth will be numbed for this procedure and you can expect for the appointment to last about 90 minutes or so.


Once the tooth is prepped, our cosmetic dentist in Raleigh will either take an impression of the tooth or use a 3-D scanner to build a digital model of your mouth. The replica of your mouth 一 whether it’s an impression or digital file 一will be sent to a dental laboratory where our expert technicians will design and fabricate your final crown.


It takes an average of 2-3 weeks for your permanent crown to return from the lab. In the meantime, you’ll wear a preliminary or “temporary” crown which we will make during your first appointment.


Caring For Your Temporary Dental Crown


Your temporary crown is made from a plastic-like material that isn’t as strong as your final crown will be.  Temporaries can break if too much pressure is applied, so we recommend that you don’t chew anything hard in the area until your permanent crown is placed. For example, you should stay away from nuts, granola, hard candies, etc.


Handle With Care (it’s Temporary!)

Since temporaries are only meant to last a few weeks 一 and we need them to come off easily when it’s time for the final crown to be installed 一the cement that is used to apply your temporary isn’t very strong. As such, we suggest that you avoid chewing gum or eating sticky foods like certain candies. Soft bread is notorious for forming a suction over your temporary and pulling it off so, you should stay away from that as well.


Brushing Around a Temporary Crown


To keep your gums healthy, brush the area gently with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Mouthwash is okay to use as well but if you are having gum soreness or bleeding, then warm salt water rinses are best.  This mixture will soothe the tissue and heal it faster.  Salt water rinses can be done as often as you’d like but generally about three times a day is most effective.


If You Need to Floss

Flossing is risky because it can cause your temporary to dislodge. If you must floss because your temporary crown is packing food, then use regular flossing string rather than flossing picks. When you remove the floss, pull it out sideways at the gum line rather than popping it back out from between your teeth.


What if Something Happens?

If you have any issues with your temporary crown breaking, becoming loose, or falling out,  then let us know right away and we’ll get everything put back in place.


Even if you’re not having sensitivity, It’s important that your preliminary crown stays on the tooth because it maintains the space for the permanent crown.  With this “space saver” out of place your tooth can shift ever so slightly, and even minor movement is bad. Since your permanent crown is such a precise fit, the smallest amount of shifting can cause it to not fit.


If your temporary falls come off and it’s going to be a while before you can see us (maybe you’re out of town) then you can temporarily replace it yourself.  Temporary cement is sold at most pharmacies in the toothpaste aisle. In a pinch, filling the inside of the crown with Vaseline and placing it back on the tooth will help to form a suction that should keep it on for the time being.



Permanent Dental Crown: The Final Step


Your second and final crown appointment will be quicker and easier than your first. Typically, you won’t need to be numbed for this procedure. If you’ve been experiencing sensitivity, however, let us know.


We will begin by sliding your temporary off.  Since we used mild cement, this shouldn’t be difficult to do.


Next, we’ll clean your tooth and try in your permanent crown.  We’ll check to make sure the contacts between the teeth are tight enough but not too snug, and we’ll check to see how your teeth come together when you bite.  If needed, we’ll make some adjustments to get the fit just right.


We may take an x-ray to ensure the proper fit of the final restoration. And if everything looks and fits well, we’ll proceed with cementing the crown on permanently.



How To: Caring For Your Permanent Dental Crown


To allow the cement to completely harden, please wait about 30 minutes after having your crown placed before you eat or drink anything.


If your new crown feels tight, like it’s pushing against your other teeth, this feeling will subside within a couple of days after everything settles into place.


Is Sensitivity Normal?

Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures after final cementation is not uncommon and should subside within a few weeks at most.  Sensitivity can be due to a chemical reaction in the cement, or from your tooth recouping after having the cavity removed. Usually, the deeper the cavity,  the more sensitive the tooth will be.  If needed, you can brush with a toothpaste that’s specifically for sensitive teeth until your symptoms subside. If your discomfort doesn’t get better in a few weeks, or if you notice that it’s getting worse, call us to schedule an exam.


The Fit of Your New Restoration

Your bite should feel like your teeth come together on both sides of your mouth at the same time.  You shouldn’t be aware of your crown more than you are your other teeth. If you feel like there is a certain position that you rest your jaw in that causes the crown to touch, first then let us know.  Though we do our best to adjust your bite at your cementation appointment, it’s impossible to replicate all of your jaw movements. Hitting too hard on a tooth can cause it to become sore, so don’t hesitate to ask about an adjustment. Adjusting your bite takes just a couple of minutes and doesn’t require any numbing medication.


The permanent crown will feel different than your temporary or original tooth. Your tongue may be curious and constantly explore the new restoration. Though things may feel a bit different, you’ll get accustomed to the new shape in a few days.


Brushing Around Crowns

It’s important to keep in mind that a crown is simply a cover that goes over your tooth.  Since your natural tooth is still there, it can still form a cavity if it isn’t cleaned well. Typically, decay will occur is at the crown margin, which is at the gumline where the end of the crown meets your natural tooth. When you brush, make sure that you’re cleaning the gumline well.  Brushing hard isn’t necessary, just be thorough. Investing in an electric toothbrush is a great way to ensure that you’re getting a good clean and using the right amount of pressure on your gums. Forceful brushing causes gum recession, which results sensitivity, so be gentle with your soft tissue.


Cleaning Between a Tooth and Dental Crown

Flossing at least once a  day is very important.  Doing so will prevent a new cavity from forming between your teeth, and help combat gum disease. Flossing picks can be used on permanent crowns, but they often don’t curve well enough to slide under the gumlines on back teeth. A water flosser is a great tool to have to flush out food particles that you might not be able to reach.


If you develop decay under or around a crown, the only way to repair your tooth is to remove the crown, eliminate the cavity, and place a new crown on the tooth.  Since a dental crown is a bit of an investment, you’ll want to make sure that you take good care of it to avoid decay and the need for replacing it prematurely.



Regular dental visits are also important when you have dental restorations.  During your time with us, we’ll clean your teeth and crowns thoroughly, our Raleigh dentist will carefully check the integrity of your dental work, and we’ll take x-rays of your teeth to screen for any new infections. Oftentimes decay can only be spotted in an x-ray; early diagnosis prevents cavities from reaching the tooth’s nerve so that you can avoid a root canal, or worse, an extraction.



Dental Crown Treatment In Raleigh


Whether it’s a new crown you need 一 or help to maintain the ones you already have 一 the skilled team at Raleigh Dental Arts is here to help. Together, we can ensure that your oral health needs are taken care of and your new restorations last as long as they should.  Give us a call today to schedule a professional cleaning or consultation.


Tarun Agarwal

Dr. Tarun Agarwal, DDS is considered one of the top dentists in the country. He is a recognized speaker, author, and dental leader. He has been featured on CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and News 14 Carolina. Dr. Agarwal has been awarded '40 under 40' Business Leaders by the Triangle Business Journal. He is regularly invited to teach other dentists around the world and recently built a training center within the practice dedicated to sharing his expertise. Most importantly he is a loving husband and dedicated father of three wonderful children. His biggest accolade was being voted 'Best Dad in the World' by 2 of his 3 kids.