A crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that rebuilds and strengthens a damaged or weakened tooth. Unlike dental fillings that simply patch or fill in a portion of a tooth, a dental crown fully covers the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies above the gum line. Crowns improve the outer surface and appearance of a tooth, restoring its shape and size and improving its overall strength and appearance. In case of discolored teeth, dental crowns will hide the discoloration and improve the appearance of your teeth. Dental crowns can also be used as anchors for dental bridges or coverings for dental implants.
Types of dental crowns
There are four main types of dental crowns:
- Metal dental crowns – These include gold, palladium, chromium, or nickel alloys. Since metal tooth crowns are very durable and are resistant to normal wear and tear, they are mostly used in molars and where grinding and chewing forces are most prevalent. However, the color of these crowns is very visible and they are better placed at the backside of the mouth where there is limited tooth visibility.
- Ceramic or porcelain dental crowns – These crowns resemble the natural color of teeth and are primarily used for front teeth. Those with metal allergies are also recommended to use these crowns.
- Resin dental crowns – These crowns are the cheapest and the most indistinguishable from natural teeth among all other crowns. However, they are less durable and prone to chipping.
- Porcelain fused to metal dental crowns – These crowns have the strength of metal crowns and the appearance of ceramic crowns. They are therefore used for structurally damaged and discolored teeth.
The crowning procedure usually takes two separate visits to a dentist that are typically scheduled two weeks apart.
During the first appointment a dentist will examine your affected tooth. An x-ray may be taken to check the root status of the tooth. The dentist will then numb (anesthetize) the tooth and its surrounding tissue. The tooth will then be filed down along its sides and chewing surface; the amount of filing depends on the crown to be used. For example, metal crowns require less filing as they are thinner than porcelain crowns. In case a large portion of your tooth is missing, the filling material is instead used to build up the tooth in order to effectively support the crown.
Once shaping is complete, the dentist will then make an impression of your teeth that are below and above the tooth yet to receive a crown. This can be achieved either through traditional or optic dental impressions so that the dental crown does not affect the normal bite.
The impressions will then be used to fabricate a dental crown at the laboratory. This process usually takes between 2 to 3 weeks. If a porcelain crown is selected, your dentist will choose a shade that closely matches the rest of your teeth. During the waiting period, a temporary dental crown will be placed over your prepared tooth with a temporary cement to hold it in place.
During the second appointment your dentist will remove the temporary crown. He or she will then place the dental crown in place and examine its fit and color. If you agree with your dentist that all the necessary factors are in place, he or she will then permanently cement the new crown in place.
If you have further questions about dental crowns or would like to set up a consultation with a member of our staff, call or contact our office today.