By: Jean Johnson for Dental1
Chances are that a patient getting a crown doesn’t discuss its longevity with the dentist or prosthodontist doing the work.
“I know for me the idea of even having to get a crown was such a big deal that I just assumed it would last my lifetime,” said Bob Alstair of Lake Oswego, Oregon who’s in his forties and has more crowns than he does natural teeth. “And the expense. Compared to fillings at any rate, crowns are so costly that when you’re shelling out for one, you tend not to think in terms of when you’ll need a replacement.”
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Think prosthodontists when you think crowns.
Prosthodontists specialize in the restoration and replacement of teeth.
Prosthodontists have M.S. degrees after their D.D.S. to indicate they’ve studied this highly skilled area of dentistry at the graduate level.
Visit the prosthodontist and take note of the office and the practitioner – do you notice that he/she has an eye for detail?
Remember it is important to have your crowns fitted and placed correctly – take the time to find the right prosthodontist.
Alstair goes on to say, though, that after he started needing one root canal after another, and even losing what was left of the tooth structure under his crowns, he started asking questions.
“Also the stench that you smell under some of them when the dentist removes the crowns,” Alstair said. “I mean, what’s that all about? This funky-junky stuff going on in the darkness there under your crowns where you can’t brush?”
According to Portland prosthodontist who specializes in reconstructive dentistry and implants, Nader Rassouli, D.D.S., M.S., the problem is that many of the crowns dentists install simply don’t fit right.
“The average life of a good crown is 10 years, but most insurance companies pay for replacement crowns as early as five years,” Rassouli said. “That tells us something, when so many crowns fail early. It takes considerable skill and precision work to get crowns fitted so they form tight seals that will hold over the longer term.”
Generic statements on the average life of dental crowns tend to run the gamut and range anywhere from 5 to 15 years to an impressive 15 to 20. Much of the discussion, though, relates to patient care and keeping the area where the crown is cemented free of dental plaque. But omitted is any mention of the importance of having your crowns done by dentists who know their stuff.
In the olden days before dentists specialized in everything from root canals to crowns to kids’ dentistry and beyond, the family dentist was assumed to be able to handle everything. Now we’re finding out differently.
“Dentistry has gotten very specialized in the more recent years,” said endodontist Chris Lampert, D.D.S, M.S. of Portland. “These days the younger dentists coming out of school that have generally gone on to get a masters in some type of specialty. So it’s mainly the older practitioners that are still doing a variety of procedures in one office.”
Bob Alstair finds that good news. He’s in the process of getting several crowns redone, not to mention a few more root canals while he’s at it. This time around he intends on paying for the best work he can find.
Lampert thinks that’s smart. “Dentistry’s like anything else,” he said. “Quality work is costly, but it pays off in the long run.”