The Lifespan of a Cap

I had a lower jaw tooth pulled several weeks ago and I have been in constant pain ever since. My dentist says I have a dry socket, which he packed with some type of medicine. That helped for a while, but now the pain is almost unbearable again. What can I do to speed up the healing? How long do I have to suffer with this pain?

– Daisy, California

On average, caps (dentists call them crowns) last about ten years. Many last a lot longer but 25 years would be considered excellent longevity. If crowns do last this long, it is a tribute to a top-rate dentist. Today, new caps or crowns are made with thinner, stronger, and more cosmetic porcelain material. Some crowns are still appropriately made with a metal/gold foundation. Your dentist’s recommendation to replace crowns is a judgment call based on decay, fracture of the old crown, poor cosmetic look, or loose teeth that need splinting or joining together. In your case, there may be other reasons to replace them of which I’m not aware.

If you don’t trust your dentist, then go for a second opinion from a highly regarded dentist. Let the new dentist give you a fresh opinion without bias from the previous dental plan. Removing crowns is routine work for dentists. Your dentist will drill them off and make temporary crowns immediately while giving you a local anesthesia for your comfort. Impressions are taken and a color shade is picked to match your other teeth; the impression is then sent to a dental lab, where the crowns are made to order. In a short period of time, your dentist will see you for a follow up visit to permanently cement them in place.

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