Dental Crown Procedure
A dental crown is a cap or covering placed by your dentist over existing teeth for a variety of reasons. Crowns can be placed to strengthen weak teeth, to restore damaged teeth to their natural size, shape, and appearance, or to protect teeth compromised by large fillings. They come in a variety of materials and will typically encase the entire visible portion of the tooth to the gum line.
Regardless of the reason for placing a crown, the procedure will involve several steps. Most crowns will require multiple visits to the dentist, but some dentists can accommodate single visit crown placements.
First, x-rays are taken and your dentist will complete an oral examination. After consultation, your dentist will prepare the tooth. Preparation includes removing the outer portion of the tooth in order to remove any decay and provide a stable base for the crown to sit on. If needed, this step may include adding material back to the tooth in order to build up the core of the tooth.
Next, an impression will be made so that your dentist has an exact model of your tooth. Traditionally done by physically pressing the tooth into a mold, today it is often done digitally by scanning the tooth.
In most cases, a temporary crown is then placed over the tooth. Because permanent crowns must be custom manufactured for each specific patient and tooth, a temporary crown will usually be necessary for typically less than two weeks while an off site dental laboratory manufactures your custom crown. The temporary crown will protect the tooth, but will still leave the area sensitive to hot and cold food and drinks. While you wait, avoid foods that are chewy or hard as they can cause damage to the temporary crown or cause it to come loose. The dentist will then make another appointment, usually less than two weeks away to place the permanent crown.
For dentists that can offer same day procedures, the procedure starts the same way but instead of sending away for off site manufacturing, the crown can be made right in the office. This will typically take a few hours, so be prepared to wait in the office.
Once your crown is ready, the dentist will place it over your tooth. Attachment is usually done using dental bonding resin and is typically a painless experience. After your crown is cemented in place, your dentist might want to check the bite to make sure the surfaces of your teeth meet with the crown correctly.
After the procedure, you will still need to take proper care of your crown. Keeping a good daily oral hygiene regimen is essential to maintaining a healthy mouth. Brush at least twice per day and floss with proper technique at least once every day to keep gum disease from affecting your mouth. A dental crown covers your tooth, but will not prevent the bacteria that causes plaque from infecting your gums or eating cavities in the tooth underneath your crown.