The Ins and Outs of Porcelain Crown Maintenance

One of the most common questions we hear from Metro East Dental Care patients is “Does a porcelain crown stain?” For such a simple question, we’d love to give a yes or no answer, but a number of things determine whether a porcelain crown stains or not. So let’s approach this question by going back to the basics.

What is a porcelain crown actually made of?

Modern porcelain crowns consist of a very strong and dense material that’s fairly stain-resistant. Any stains that do appear don’t usually penetrate down into the restoration, and simply brushing your teeth regularly may be enough to keep your porcelain crown looking white. However, if your crown does get stained, be sure to let your hygienist know during your next dental appointment. Oftentimes a professional cleaning by an experienced dental health professional can remove discolorations quickly and easily.

What causes a porcelain crown to stain?

While porcelain is a highly durable material for dental restorations, it’s not entirely indestructible. Many porcelain crowns become stained when the protective glaze that helps the restoration retain its color gets damaged or if the margin of the porcelain becomes exposed in the mouth. One possible way crowns can get damaged is if you regularly use highly abrasive toothpaste that wears away the outer glaze of the porcelain. Acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar, and soda, can also wear down the anti-staining resin. Sometimes the hard porcelain surface of your crown can crack if you often use your teeth as a tool to open packaging or chew ice. Frequent alcohol consumption, eating hard candies, and smoking tobacco are just a couple of other ways porcelain crowns can get damaged.

Many of these problems usually cause minor surface stains, which your dentist can repair during your biannual checkups and cleanings. Because modern porcelain crowns are also very translucent, a darkened appearance or a brownish substance on your restoration may be a sign of decay. In these cases, you’ll need to have your crown evaluated by an experienced dentist to know what it is for sure, and you’ll most likely need your  restoration replaced.

How can you care for your porcelain crown to minimize staining?

Like so many other dental issues, the answer to this question is “maintain a good oral hygiene routine.” Treat your porcelain crowns just as you would your natural teeth by brushing your teeth twice a day, remembering to floss, and visiting your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. Stick to a soft-bristled brush so you can clean your teeth without wearing away your restoration’s protective barrier, and avoid using whitening toothpaste that contains baking soda. While these kinds of toothpaste may be safe for natural teeth, they’re too abrasive for porcelain crowns. You can also add a fluoride rinse and gel to your cleaning regimen.

Your dentist can provide additional recommendations on the best oral products for you to use. Another way to keep your teeth white and bright is to limit teeth-staining foods and beverages. As a rule of thumb, always remember that if the food or drink you’re having can stain your clothes, chances are it will stain your teeth (and porcelain crown) as well.

Can teeth whitening solutions remove stains on porcelain crowns?

Because of how good the protective glazing on porcelain crowns is at resisting staining, it makes whitening the restoration through cosmetic procedures or over-the-counter products problematic. Stains on crowns are best removed by a professional dentist, not by off-the-shelf whitening treatments. Your dentist will most likely use either a diamond paste or airflow technology to remove any stubborn surface stains. Discolorations that are the results of something inside the tooth, such as decay or damaged pulp, may require treatment prior to replacing the restoration. Most porcelain crowns stay the same color as when they’re placed in your mouth. It’s your natural teeth that are actually more likely to pick up stains and turn yellow, so you may want to look into whitening only your original teeth to match your whiter porcelain restorations.

Receive the best dental crown restorations in Granite City, Illinois.

Keeping tabs on the color of your teeth (and restorations) is important not just for your smile, but for your overall health as well. With porcelain crowns, you can get the best of both worlds: a wonderful restoration that blends with your smile and one that is fairly stain-resistant. Your regular oral routine and biannual teeth cleanings can often be the only thing that’s needed to keep stains from developing on your crowns.

Feel free to book a consultation with us if you’d like to find out whether porcelain crowns are the right fit for your particular needs or how to safely whiten your teeth when you have a restoration. Dr. May and his team can provide you with the best whitening options that won’t damage your restoration, allowing you to achieve a beautiful white smile with your natural teeth as well as your crowns.