You are probably familiar with dental fillings, which are used to restore the structure and function of teeth that have been damaged by injury or decay. However, sometimes teeth are too extensively damaged by injury or decay to be successfully restored by a dental filling, but not so extensively damaged as to justify or require complete removal. Additionally, it can sometimes happen that teeth have an undesirable appearance or shape. Or sometimes implants need to be improved upon for structure, function and comfort purposes. In all these cases, and even a few others, a dental crown may be the appropriate solution.
The Use of Crowns
Dental crowns are essentially caps that entirely cover a damaged tooth or implant, thereby strengthening it and improving its appearance and shape. They are often made of porcelain or ceramic so that they are undetectable in the mouth, especially when they are being used in highly visible areas of the mouth, but they can sometimes be made of gold or metal. The benefit of gold or metal crowns is that they tend to be stronger than porcelain or ceramic crowns, and are therefore better suited to the restoration of back teeth. Where both strength and appearance are concerns, porcelain can be bonded to metal.
There are many reasons your dentist may recommend that you receive a dental crown, including:
- You need to replace a large filling and there isn’t enough natural tooth left to support a new large filling.
- You have a weak tooth that needs to be protected against fracture.
- You need to restore the structure, function and comfort of a fractured tooth.
- You need the tooth to be able to anchor a dental bridge.
- You have a dental implant that needs to be covered and made functional.
- You have a discolored or poorly shaped tooth that you would like to cover.
- You have a tooth that has received a root canal treatment.
Where the placement of a crown is prudent, your dentist will discuss your specific oral condition with you and how receiving a crown will help to improve it.
A tooth that will receive a crown must first be reduced in size so that the crown can fit over it without causing problems with crowding or your normal bite. Your dentist will remove tooth enamel and shape the tooth in order to receive the crown, which makes this process irreversible. However, crowns are not recommended lightly, nor where they are unneeded, so the fact that the process is irreversible should not be of concern.
Once your tooth has been prepared to receive a crown, your dentist will make an impression of it. This mold will be used by a dental laboratory to custom make the crown. Where porcelain or ceramic is being used, your dentist will carefully match the color of your natural teeth so that it will blend well. Then, your dentist will place a temporary crown over your tooth to protect it until your follow-up visit.
At your second visit, your dentist will remove your temporary crown and place your permanent crown. He will carefully ensure fit and proper bite prior to cementing your crown into place. In some cases, your dentist may choose to schedule a follow-up visit so he can ensure that your crown does not need any further adjustments and is working properly.
Caring For Your Crown
Crowns are made to endure for many years, but they can become worn and need replacement after some time. In order to extend the longevity of your crown, you should practice good oral hygiene habits by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing your teeth once a day and visiting your dentist every six months. You should also avoid chewing hard foods and other substances, like ice or pencils, as this can weaken or even damage the crown.
For more information about dental crowns, contact Today’s Dental now.