You probably know how professional dental cleaning works. Using a variety of instruments, your dentist removes both surface stains and dental calculus (hardened plaque) from your teeth to achieve a level of oral hygiene that you can't quite replicate at home. These techniques are primarily applied to dental enamel (the powerful substance that coats your teeth), but what happens when one of your teeth is actually coated in porcelain? Can you still receive professional cleaning when you have dental crowns?
A Different Approach
Crowns aren't excluded from dental cleaning, but the approach is different. This simply reflects the fact that the exterior of the tooth differs from a natural tooth. The crown can still be polished to remove surface stains, which restores it to the same shade of white as when it was installed. Polishing is performed using a prophy paste, which gently buffs the surface of the tooth using a substance containing fine granules (typically pumice). A prophy paste specially formulated for porcelain crowns will be used. However, many applications of professional cleaning for dental crowns are focused on the crown's margin.
The Crown's Margin
The margin is where the porcelain shell meets the natural tooth beneath it. This margin is obscured by your gums, although the margin can become visible when you have periodontal disease that has resulted in gum recession. In most cases, your dentist will probe the tooth. This involves the insertion of a small metal tool (the dental probe) into the tooth's pocket. A probe will confirm the depth of the pocket, and allows your dentist to check for bacterial accumulation and potential cavities at the base of the natural tooth, treating these as necessary. This helps to preserve the tooth beneath the crown, preventing deterioration that may jeopardize the crown.
Dental Scaling and Calculus Removal
Any scaling will be centered around the tooth's margins, and won't necessarily be applied to the porcelain crown. This is to prevent the porcelain from developing small cracks and indentations, which can create a hollow that permits the accumulation of bacterial biofilm. This won't degrade the crown itself, but it can endanger neighboring teeth. Because the anatomy of a porcelain crown differs from a natural tooth, your dentist may take a radiograph to confirm that the removal of dental calculus has been achieved.
Just because teeth have been strengthened with dental crowns, it doesn't mean that regular cleaning isn't necessary. This dental cleaning will help to ensure the longevity of both the porcelain crown and the natural tooth beneath it.