What are Dental Crowns?
A dental crown is an artificial tooth shaped cap your dentist places over a tooth. Crowns restore damaged or missing teeth back to their regular form, function and appearance. Crowns completely cover the visible portion of a tooth. When decay or damage has affected a tooth, dental crowns are a treatment method that can protect and improve the appearance of your teeth.
There are many reasons for your dentist to recommend putting a crown over your teeth.
- Crowns are useful to protect broken or fractured teeth.
- Crowns may be necessary to attach a bridge to replace missing teeth
- Crowns can protect a compromised tooth from breaking, and restore a fractured tooth back to its normal function
- Crowns can be used to cover a misshapen or discolored tooth, or to cover a dental implant
Dental crowns are made from a variety of different materials, in most cases in off site dental laboratories. Ceramic, porcelain, and metal alloys (sometimes a combination of these materials) are bonded to the tooth with composite resin. The different materials all come with different benefits and downsides. Your dentist will consult with you to choose the proper material for your particular case. Most crowns are tooth colored and are often nearly indistinguishable from your existing teeth (note this will not be the case for metallic crowns).
In order for your crown to appear naturally and fit comfortably, your dentist may recommend different materials depending on which tooth is to be covered, how it sits in the gum, and the color of the surrounding teeth.
Placing a crown generally takes multiple visits to your dental professional because there are a number of steps involved in the procedure. During your first visit, the dentist will prepare your tooth by removing tooth material so that the crown will fit comfortably and then place a temporary crown.
Permanent crowns must be custom manufactured for each specific patient and tooth. It typically takes less than two weeks to make a permanent crown. While you are waiting for your permanent crown, it is important to avoid hard or chewy foods as they can damage or displace the temporary crown, typically made of stainless steel or an acrylic-based material. It is also normal for the tooth to be sensitive to hot or cold food and drinks during this time.
Aftercare for a dental crown is essential to keeping your mouth healthy. Crowns can break, and the tooth underneath can still get cavities or be affected by decay. Make sure to continue to brush your teeth twice daily with a soft bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. Flossing with proper technique at least once a day will help prevent gum disease that can still affect the tooth underneath your crown. Stopping bad habits, like chewing on pencils or other hard objects, will reduce the risk of cracking or breaking your crown.
It is always recommended to visit your dentist several times a year for cleanings and checkups. When you have a crown or other