Dental crowns are tooth-shaped caps or a tooth cap that is placed atop damaged teeth. They restore the tooth’s shape, size, strength, and appearance. A tooth crown can be made out of metals, porcelain, ceramics, and resin. Usually, they do not require special care other than regular good oral hygiene.
The different reasons for needing a dental crown include protecting a weak tooth from breaking or keeping the weak tooth together if parts of it are cracked, restoring a broken tooth or a severely worn down tooth, covering and supporting a tooth with a large filling and an insubstantial segment of the tooth remaining, holding a dental bridge in place, covering misshapen or severely discolored teeth, covering dental implants, and covering a tooth that has been treated with a root canal.
Types of dental crowns
Crowns can be made of different metals including gold, palladium, nickel, and chromium. A metal dental crown lasts the longest in terms of wear down and only requires a small amount of the tooth to be removed. They can withstand biting and chewing forces. The metallic color is the main drawback of this type of crown. They are a good choice for molars that are not visible.
An advantage of this type of crown is it can be matched to the natural color of the teeth that are adjacent to the crown. Sometimes, the metal under the crown’s porcelain cap appears as a dark line. Another disadvantage of the porcelain-fused-to-metal crown is the possibility of the crown’s porcelain portion breaking off and the crown wearing down the teeth opposite it. These crowns can be an excellent choice for front or back teeth.
These crowns are usually less expensive than other crown types. They do wear down over time and are more likely to break than porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns.
All-ceramic or all-porcelain
These types of crowns provide the best natural color match compared to other crown types and are effective if you are allergic to metal. However, a ceramic or porcelain dental crown is not as strong as a porcelain-fused-to-metal crown. They can also wear down the teeth opposite them more than metal or resin crowns. All-ceramic is a good choice for a dental crown in front teeth.
These crowns have a hard inner core. They replace the metal liner that is used in the all-ceramic crown-making process. They are capped with porcelain which provides the best natural color match and are more long-lasting than an all-porcelain crown.
Normally, you will have two visits to a dentist to prepare for a dental crown.
The first visit
The dental crown procedure first involves numbing the tooth with local anesthesia. The tooth that is going to receive the crown is then examined and prepared. X-rays are taken of the tooth and the surrounding bone. It may require a root canal treatment before the crown procedure if there is any tooth decay, risk of infection, or injury to the tooth’s pulp.
The tooth that is receiving the crown will be filed down across the top and sides to make room for the crown. The amount of tooth that gets filed away depends on the type of crown you have. If too much of the tooth is missing, a filling material can be used to build up enough tooth structure for the crown to cover.
After reshaping the tooth, a paste is used to make an impression. The impressions are sent to a dental laboratory and they normally return them to the dentist’s office in two to three weeks. During this visit, the dentist will make a temporary dental crown to cover the prepared tooth while you are waiting for the permanent crown.
The second visit
During the second visit, the permanent crown is placed on your tooth. First, the temporary dental crown is removed and the fit and color of the permanent crown are checked. If everything is in good order, the new dental crown is permanently cemented in place.
Same-day dental crowns
Same-day dental crowns can be performed if the dentist has the proper equipment. The first steps are to remove decay and shape the tooth for a perfect fit inside the crown. A scanning device is used to take digital pictures of the tooth and the computer software takes a 3D model of the tooth from these pictures. This digital design is then sent to another in-office machine that carves the shape of the crown out of a ceramic block. The dental crown is ready to be cemented into place in less than 15 minutes.