Dental Crowns 101
As our teeth age, problems may arise that cannot be solved with fillings. One of the most common procedures in dentistry is the use of dental crowns. A crown is a cover that is carefully shaped like a tooth and placed over your existing tooth, which has been badly damaged or is seriously decayed.
A crown can be placed over your tooth for many reasons. Often, the original tooth is broken or decayed. A new filling would not be able to replace enough tooth to make the tooth strong.
Or, the tooth may have had a lot of fillings put into it before, and it simply cannot take any more fillings without falling apart.
The crown most often is used to hold together a cracked or damaged tooth, or it might also be used to hold a bridge in the proper position. A crown also may be used to make your teeth look better; one might, for example, be used to cover a badly discolored tooth.
What Dental Crowns Are Made Of
Crowns may be made in advance, or can be made special order in a lab. Crowns that are prefabricated usually are made of stainless steel or plastic. They are used temporarily until your permanent crown has been made.
Crowns may be ceramic, all metal, or porcelain that has been fused to metal (PFM). Some of the most common metals are gold, palladium, nickel or chromium. All metal crowns are the strongest and are the best choices for back teeth. PFM and ceramic crowns look like your natural teeth.
A crown should last at least seven years, but some may last decades.
How a Crown Is Placed
If a crown is needed on your tooth, you could need a root canal on the tooth first. This treatment may be needed if there is a great deal of decay present. If so, there is a higher risk of infection and/or injury to the pulp of the tooth. Of course, not everyone who must have a crown will need a root canal. That decision will be made upon examination.
Before the crown is put in, we may need to make a foundation to support the new tooth. This will be needed if there is large amounts of decay, or if large amounts of the tooth are missing.
To put in your crown, we will first file down the original tooth to provide enough room for it. If you have an all-metal crown put in, less of the tooth needs to be filed away; metal crowns can be made much thinner than ceramic crowns.
After the tooth has been filed, you will receive a plastic, temporary crown until your next visit. In the meantime, your permanent crown will be made.
We will make an impression of your tooth, as well of those above or below the tooth that gets the crown. Those impressions are sent out to a laboratory. It may take a week or two for the crown to be made.
At your second visit, we will remove the temporary crown. Then we will try to put in the permanent crown. It may need to be polished or adjusted before it is permanently placed. Once the proper adjustments have been made, the crown is permanently cemented to the original tooth.
Your newly-crowned tooth is well protected from decay, but the gum line can be vulnerable for some patients. We may prescribe a high fluoride paste for you to use nightly if you have a higher risk of getting tooth decay. Remember that a crown will in no way protect you from gum disease. You should always continue to floss daily and brush at least twice per day.
If you think you may need a dental crown, please contact us today!