Dental implants and crowns are both great options to restore and improve your oral health. Knowing the difference between these treatments can be difficult as a patient, especially since the end result looks the same. Despite this, there are key differences between an implant and a crown that will help you determine which is best for your situation.
What you need to know about implants and crowns.
They repair issues differently.
Though crowns can be used to restore more cosmetic issues such as discolored teeth, implants and crowns both treat decay, infection, or significant damage to a patient’s tooth. The biggest difference between the two treatments is that implants are often used to treat more serious damage.
Since crowns are set on top of an existing tooth, there needs to be a certain amount of healthy tooth left in order for a crown to work. If the root of your natural tooth can be preserved along with enough natural tooth to set a crown on, there’s likely no need for you to get an implant.
If your entire tooth needs to be removed or there isn’t enough natural tooth left to support a crown, however, an implant might be the best treatment. Implants function as a replacement for your lost root, stimulating your jawbone the way that a natural root would in order to prevent bone loss.
They perform different jobs once they’re placed.
Crowns are often used to protect your teeth from future decay, correct the look of a tooth, and restore your smile. While this alone can be incredibly helpful, they don’t affect the rest of your mouth as a whole. Dental implants, however, do more than restore your smile and help save a single tooth; they preserve the shape of your face.
The roots of your teeth are constantly stimulating your jawbone, and without this stimulus the bone beneath a missing tooth reabsorbs into your body. This can cause the affected part of your face to look sunken in, changing your face shape. Dental implants prevent this by stimulating the bone in your jaw to grow. They also prevent the teeth in your mouth from moving into the empty space left by a lost tooth, which can cause hard-to-clean gaps between your teeth and expose you to higher risks of gum disease and cavities.
They require different procedures.
Receiving a crown often takes a couple of visits to the dentist. The procedure involves shaving away enough of the tooth so that the crown can be placed over it like a cap; it may also require a root canal. A dental implant is much more involved and takes much longer. It’s completed in stages so that you are able to heal between each procedure.
Whether you lost your tooth due to an injury or your dentist extracted it, your mouth needs to heal for three to six months before you can get an implant. How long a patient must wait depends upon each individual; you don’t want to put it off too long, though, since waiting too long can cause too much bone loss in your jaw, making the surgery difficult. Once you’ve healed, Dr. Kucko will implant a titanium rod into your jawbone and wait six to 12 weeks before continuing. This gives the bone time to heal and begin growing snugly around the metal rod. Once you’ve healed, a connector post and crown are attached to the implant.
While this sounds intimidating, modern anesthetics mean each of these procedures involves only minor discomfort while the dentists are working. There will be some soreness or pain afterward, but over-the-counter pain medications such as Tylenol should knock it out.
Implants last longer than crowns.
Implants and crowns both require you to practice good oral hygiene—this will keep your implant or crown in good condition and will protect your mouth against cavities or gum disease. You should make a habit of brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing, and using mouthwash daily, and going to the dentist for a clean every six months. If you do this, your crown should last between 10 and 15 years. The crown on top of your implant is similar, lasting around 15 years, perhaps more if you take very good care of it. The implant itself, however, can last a lifetime without needing to be replaced.
Crowns cost less.
The fact that dental implants cost more than crowns probably isn’t surprising since the procedure is more involved and implants essentially include a crown at the top. This price difference is exacerbated by the fact that dental insurance often doesn’t cover dental implants, as they usually consider dental implants to be cosmetic procedures. Your normal medical insurance, however, may help cover the cost of your dental implant.
In addition to costing less at the outset, crowns are generally covered by dental insurance companies because they are considered restorative procedures; how much your dental insurance will cover, however, depends on your individual insurance company and plan. If cost is a problem for you, speak to the friendly team at Bela Family Dentistry of White Knoll. They understand insurance plans and can offer helpful advice so that you can still get the care you need.
Dental implants and crowns are both great treatment options, but it’s often best to preserve your natural tooth with a crown if you can. Implants are an incredibly useful treatment option when they’re needed, but they are more expensive and involve a much more complicated procedure. Before you make a decision, however, discuss your treatment options with your dentist to determine what will do the most to improve your short and long-term oral health.