Dental crowns are a procedure commonly used to cover an existing tooth when you want to restore the shape, size, or strength of the tooth, or improve its appearance. When properly installed, a crown will cover all the visible portions of a tooth above the gum line and match the appearance of your natural teeth.
When to Get a Dental Crown
Crowns are not the only option for restorative dental work, but there are some situations when they provide the best and most effective treatment, including:
- Protecting a tooth that has weakened from decay
- Preventing teeth from breaking apart if it is cracked
- Restoring an already broken tooth
- Improving the appearance of a tooth, especially one that is cracked, chipped, or worn down
- Covering a tooth that has a large filling and not much enamel left to protect it
- Holding dental bridges in place
- Covering teeth that are misshapen or discolored
- Covering a dental implant
Crowns may also be used on children’s primary teeth (also called baby teeth) to help save a tooth that has become severely damaged as a result of decay, or protect teeth that might be at risk if a child is having difficulty keeping up with proper oral health care.
Types of Crowns Available
Crowns can be made of several different materials, the most common being porcelain-fused-to-metal, resin, ceramic, stainless steel, or metal (in the form of gold or another alloy). In most cases stainless steel crowns are used as a temporary measure while a permanent crown is made from another material. This material is also commonly used for crowns in children because it naturally comes out when the baby tooth falls out.
Metal crowns are available and have several advantages, including reducing wear and tear on opposing teeth, requiring less tooth structure be removed in order to place the crown, and withstanding biting and chewing forces well. Since they are metallic, though, they will not match your natural teeth and are therefore often reserved for back molars.
Other options, such as porcelain-fused-to-metal, all-ceramic, all-porcelain and all-resin are designed to more closely match your natural teeth. They do require that your existing tooth be more worn down, and may chip, break, or wear out over time. Talk to your student dentist about the options available and to find out which one might be the best for your situation.
Preparing For and Getting a Dental Crown
Most crowns require two trips to the dentist, first to take impressions, prepare the tooth, and put in a temporary crown, and the second to place a permanent crown. If your existing tooth already has extensive decay, it may require a root canal before you can have the crown placed. On the first visit the dentist will usually take X-rays and check the existing tooth to make sure there is no infection.
In most cases the dentist will prepare the tooth by removing some of the outer surface so there is room to fit the crown over the existing tooth. If you have a large amount of tooth missing from decay or damage, however, the dentist will build up the tooth on the first visit so it can properly support the crown.
The dentist will send the impressions to a lab where they will make your crown, and on the second visit your student dentist will remove the temporary crown and place the permanent one.
Immediately after getting a crown you may experience pain and sensitivity, but usually this goes away after a short period of time. If your crown ever becomes chipped, cracked, or falls off, it’s important to call The Dental Clinic at Roseman University immediately to schedule an appointment with our Urgent Care Clinic.
With proper dental treatment and care your crown will likely last for at least 10 to 15 years, and may last much longer.