What are dental crowns?
Dental crowns are tooth-shaped covers placed over damaged teeth to restore their full function and appearance. They may be made of porcelain, ceramic, alloys or acrylic. Crowns are used as permanent fixtures cemented to existing teeth to fortify them. They are also used to recreate new teeth by covering implants. Crowns often have the same look and feel as natural teeth.
What are the purposes of using a dental crown?
Dental crowns are used for a variety of purposes such as:
- Restoring broken or worn teeth
- Protecting teeth that have been weakened by decay
- Holding a dental bridge in place
- Covering dental implants
- Protecting and supporting teeth with large fillings
- Improving the appearance of discolored teeth
- Correcting the shape of teeth
Crowns are also used on primary teeth in children to protect them from damage and reduce the risk of decay.
What are the different types of dental crowns?
Crowns can be made from a variety of materials including:
- Stainless steel: used temporarily while the permanent crown is created
- Alloys: used to withstand wear and tear, have the longest lifespan
- Porcelain/ceramic: natural looking; best for those with metal allergies
- Resin: cost-effective, less expensive than other crown types
- Milled Crowns: Made using digital software; can be attached in one visit
Most crowns are permanent prosthetic fixtures, but some, mostly made of acrylic or stainless steel, can be temporary. The type of crown used will be determined by your dentist and depend on your individual concerns and needs.
What is the procedure used for dental crown placement?
Typically, the procedure for getting a dental crown takes two visits. The first visit is dedicated to preparation. Your dentist will perform an examination of the roots and surrounding bone of the tooth to determine whether extensive decay is present. If so, a root canal will be performed first. Under a local anesthetic, the tooth receiving the crown will be filed down and reshaped. The amount of natural tooth removed will depend on the type of crown being used. Sometimes, if a large amount of damage or decay is present, a filling material will be needed to support the tooth and crown.
The dentist uses a putty-like substance to take impressions that will serve as a model for the crown. The impressions are sent to a dental laboratory where the crown is created. Since this process takes several weeks, a temporary crown will be attached to protect the two during this time. If a porcelain or ceramic crown is used, the correct shade will be chosen to match the color of your existing teeth.
During the second visit, the permanent crown will be put in place. The color, shape, and size will be evaluated before the crown is permanently cemented. The fit may need to be adjusted during this visit.
As previously mentioned, if a milled crown is used, the process of crown manufacture takes place digitally, in the dentist’s office. In this case, the procedure only requires one visit.
Do dental crowns require special care?
With proper oral hygiene, your crown can last between 5 and 15 years before needing replacement. Dentists recommend routine professional teeth cleanings and checkups to maintain the appearance and functionality of your dental crown. To avoid damage, it is advised that you refrain from activities that can damage your crown such as biting your fingernails, eating hard food or chewing on hard objects, like pens.