A crown is a dental treatment that protects or improves the appearance of a damaged or weakened tooth. Also known as a cap, the tooth-shaped crown fits over an existing tooth or partial tooth.
Why Are Crowns Installed?
Crowns are a common treatment, and they serve several purposes. In a nutshell, crowns work to protect teeth, replace missing teeth, and enhance the patient’s smile.
1) To Protect Broken Teeth
For one thing, a crown protects a damaged tooth. For example, dentists use crowns to repair broken teeth or teeth that have been weakened by a deep cavity or root canal procedure. A crown can strengthen a tooth so that it can safely bear the pressure of biting and chewing.
2) To Replace Missing Teeth
Crowns are also used in conjunction with dental implants and bridges to replace missing teeth. A dental implant is a stem made of a titanium alloy that is inserted through the gum into the bone. Once the implant fuses with the bone, a crown is placed on top. Similarly, crowns anchor bridges. Dentists place a crown on either side of a missing tooth to hold an artificial tooth in place.
3) To Improve The Appearance Of Damaged Teeth
Finally, dentists install crowns for cosmetic purposes. A crown can cover and conceal a tooth that is stained, discolored, chipped, or misshapen. Compared with other cosmetic treatments like bonding and veneers, crowns last longer and provide more protection for teeth that have begun to decay.
What Are Crowns Made Of?
Crowns are available in several materials, including porcelain, metal, porcelain fused with metal, and resin. The choice of material depends on the location of the crown, the cost of the crown, and the aesthetic result the patient wants to achieve.
Porcelain is a type of ceramic made of heated clay. Compared with other types of ceramic, porcelain is stronger, more consistent in color, and has a higher heat tolerance. Porcelain crowns look like natural teeth, and it’s easy to match them to the patient’s tooth color. All-porcelain crowns cost more than other types, but they offer the best appearance.
Metal crowns are usually made of an alloy containing gold or platinum. These crowns work well for molars because they aren’t visible, and they don’t need to match the color of other teeth. Furthermore, they can withstand the pressure of biting and chewing. Metal crowns are the strongest and longest-lasting option.
Porcelain Fused With Metal
Porcelain-fused-with-metal (PFM) crowns offer the advantages of both porcelain and metal. Like all-porcelain crowns, they mimic the look of natural teeth, but they cost less. Like metal crowns, they form durable bonds to natural teeth. However, PFM crowns also have some disadvantages. For one thing, the color of the underlying metal may be visible at the gum line. Also, porcelain crowns can damage adjoining teeth if they’re in the back of the mouth.
Resin is a composite material made of silicon dioxide and tooth-colored plastic. Resin crowns look natural, and they cost less than porcelain. However, they do not last very long. Dentists may use resin crowns as temporary crowns.
How Is A Crown Installed?
Installing a crown involves several steps, and it may take one or two visits. The dentist will need to examine the tooth, prepare it for the crown, make an impression, make the permanent crown, and glue it on.
Step One: Examine The Tooth
The first step in installing a crown is examining the tooth with x-rays. X-rays can reveal tooth decay and help the dentist determine what type of preparation the tooth needs before receiving a crown. If the tooth has decay or infected pulp, it may need a filling or root canal.
Step Two: Prepare The Toot
The dentist will prepare the tooth by removing a thin layer of enamel along with any decay. Because the crown will fit over the tooth, the tooth’s exterior will need to be reduced. Often, the dentist will build up the core of a damaged tooth by filling it in with a composite material.
Step Three: Make An Impression
After preparing the tooth, the dentist will make an impression with a special type of paste that will harden and keep a fixed shape. The impression will capture not only the affected tooth but also the teeth above or below. The purpose of this is to make sure that the crown won’t interfere with the patient’s bite.
Step Four: Make The Crown
If the impressions are sent to a lab, it may take several weeks for the permanent crown to come back. In that case, the dentist will install a temporary crown made of an inexpensive material, like resin or acrylic. The temporary crown will protect the tooth and allow the patient to have a normal-looking smile. However, if the dentist makes the crown in-house, then the permanent crown can be installed in a single appointment.
Step Five: Install The Crown
When the permanent crown is ready, the dentist will first set it in place, checking to make sure the fit is right and the patient is pleased with the look. The final step is to glue the permanent crown in place with cement. Patients will need to avoid hard or sticky foods for 24 hours, but after that, they can eat normally.
Who Is A Good Candidate For A Dental Crown?
Dental crowns can address a wide variety of tooth problems, but a dentist may recommend other solutions for minor cosmetic adjustments or for very young patients. If you’re wondering whether a crown is right for you, consider the following questions.
1. Do you have large fillings or multiple fillings in a single tooth? If so, your tooth is weaker than a whole tooth, and a crown can protect and strengthen it. A crown will help the tooth last longer, and it will eliminate the need to replace old fillings.
2. Have you had or do you need a root canal? A root canal removes infected pulp from the inner core of a tooth, but just like a deep filling, a root canal weakens the tooth. A crown can protect the affected tooth and allow the patient to eat normally.
3. Do you need a long-lasting solution for cosmetic issues? A crown restores the shape and color of damaged teeth by covering the teeth completely. Patients may want to explore lower-cost cosmetic treatments before investing in a crown, but crowns last longer than bonding or veneers.
4. Do you need to replace a missing tooth? Dental implants have eclipsed bridges as the preferred method of tooth replacement. An implant involves attaching a crown to a metal base that is inserted into the jaw bone. While a bridge requires treatment of healthy teeth, an implant leaves healthy teeth alone.
Whether you have damaged teeth or simply want a brighter smile, a dental crown may be a good option. To learn more about whether a crown is right for you, make an appointment for an evaluation.