A crown is a full tooth cover restoration that is placed over a damaged tooth. Some people refer to dental crowns as caps. Dental crowns are similar in shape and shade to dental veneers except that crowns cover all the surfaces of a tooth whereas veneers only cover the visible outside surface of the tooth. Besides strengthening a damaged tooth, a crown can be used to improve its appearance, shape or alignment. A crown can also be placed on top of an implant to provide a tooth-like shape and structure for function. Porcelain or ceramic crowns can be matched to the color of your natural teeth. Other materials include gold and metal alloys, acrylic and ceramic. These alloys are generally stronger than porcelain and may be recommended for back teeth. Porcelain bonded to a metal shell is often used because it is both strong and attractive.
Your dentist may recommend a crown to:
- Replace a large filling when there isn't enough tooth remaining.
- Protect a weak tooth from fracturing.
- Restore a fractured tooth.
- Attach a bridge.
- Cover a dental implant.
- Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth.
- Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment.
Crown Process Anterior
Before a crown can be made, the tooth (or teeth) must be reduced in size so that the crown or bridge will fit over it properly. After reducing the tooth/teeth, your dentist will take an impression to provide an exact mould for the crown. If porcelain is to be used, your dentist will determine the correct shade for the crown to match the colour of your existing teeth.
Using this impression, a dental lab then makes your crown, in the material your dentist specifies. A temporary crown will be put in place to cover the prepared tooth while the permanent crown is being made. When the permanent crown is ready, the temporary crown is removed, and the new crown is cemented over your prepared tooth or teeth.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you and your dentist is happy with the fit and appearance of the new crown it will be fixed in place with special dental cement or adhesive. The cement forms a seal to hold the crown in place.
You will need to have at least two visits: the first for the preparation, impression, shade taking and fitting the temporary crown; and the second to fit the permanent crown. There will usually be about 1 to 2 weeks in between appointments.
A temporary crown will be made so that you can use the tooth while you wait for the crown to be made. This crown may be more noticeable but is only a temporary measure.
No, you will have a local anaesthetic and the preparation should feel no different from a filling. If the tooth does not have a nerve, and a post crown is being prepared, then you may not need a local anaesthetic.
The crown will be made to match your other teeth as closely as possible. The shade of the neighbouring teeth will be recorded, to make sure that the colour looks natural and matches the surrounding teeth.
Because the shape of the crown will be slightly different from the shape of your tooth before it was crowned, you may be aware of it to begin with. Within a few days it should feel fine, and you will not notice it. The crown may need some adjustment if your bite does not feel comfortable, and if this is the case, you should ask your dentist to check and adjust it.
Costs will vary according to the type of crown and material used. It is advisable to get a written estimate and treatment plan before beginning any dental treatment.
How long your crown lasts depends on how well you look after it. The crown itself cannot decay, but decay can start where the edge of the crown joins the tooth. Therefore, to prevent decay affecting the crown, it is important to keep this area just as clean as you would your natural teeth. Brush for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and clean in between your teeth with interdental brushes or floss.
Properly cared for crowns should last for many years. Your dentist will be able to tell you how long the crown may be expected to last.