A dental crown is one of the most well known dental restorations. They are used to encapsulate those teeth that are beyond repair. For example, in the case of a severely decayed tooth that’s beyond saving using traditional methods such as a filling. Dental crowning can be done to avoid discomfort and infection, such as after Root Canal Therapy. It is important to understand that the tooth will not remain functional forever. It is also possible that decay may reemerge and compromise its structural integrity.
Dental crowns are the optimal choice in such situations. They provide protection to the vulnerable tooth and add structural support, minimising the possibility of decay since crowns seal the tooth from the rest of the mouth. This means that the longevity of the decaying tooth is drastically increased.
This type of treatment is a good option for patients who have sustained severe damage on the tooth. Not only does it restore the structure and strength of your tooth, but also improves your facial and smile aesthetics. A dentist will recommend dental crowing if you have the following conditions.
- If you have yellow or discoloured teeth.
- If you have loose, cracked or chipped tooth.
- If you grind your teeth, unable to chew food comfortably or if your bite is not aligned properly.
- If you have undergone a root canal. If you have a large dental filling, you may need a dental crown to preserve your major tooth.
- If you lost your teeth to a periodontal disease or a traumatic injury. Crown with dental implants are an ideal solution.
Dental Crown Procedure
The procedure for installing a dental crown in most cases takes three separate visits to the dentist. The dentist will examine the tooth on the first appointment. This is to determine whether it can support a crown. This visit normally entails taking x-rays. If there is any form of extensive decay or risk of infection to the tooth, the dentists will have to treat it first before commencing with dental crown.
During the second appointment, the tooth and the gum tissue is anesthetised before the crown making process begins. The tooth is then filed down mostly along the chewing surface so that the crown can fit.
The crown must match the neighbouring teeth, so it will be returned back to the dentist after two or three weeks for matching. Your tooth will be fitted with a temporary crown during the first visit to protect it before a permanent one is fixed.
After the tooth has been filed to the proper shape, the dentist will take an impression of it and the surrounding. The impression is sent to a dental lab so that the permanent crown can be created. This protects the tooth until the final crown is ready for permanent placement.
A patient will go for the third and final visit once the permanent crown has been designed. The temporary crown will be removed on the third visit. The dentist will position and fasten this new crown in position with a special adhesive.
Dental Crowns Materials
There are four common materials dentists use to make dental crowns. They include: all ceramic (porcelain-based) porcelain fused to metal, gold alloys and base metal alloys.
All Ceramic Crowns
These are porcelain-based filling materials normally recommended for front teeth since the colour blends with the rest of the natural teeth. Before the porcelain is attached to the tooth, the dentist may have to remove more tooth structure; however, the material is resistant to wear since it is brittle under heavy biting.
Porcelain Fused to Metal Crown
This material is connected to the outside of a metal structure to give strength to the tooth and provide a good seal to prevent recurrent decay and leakage. When fused to metal, porcelain provides a stronger restoration than porcelain would do if it was alone. Although the dentist will have to remove a durable structure of your tooth, this material is very strong and durable.
All Porcelain Crowns
These ones are mostly recommended by dentists due to the fact that they are aesthetically pleasing. It is much easier to fabricate an all-porcelain crown to match the colour of the surrounding teeth. However, it may not be easy for a dentist to achieve a good fit along the gum line since the material is very thick and more of the natural tooth has to be filed.
Stainless Steel Crowns
This crown is mostly used temporarily as a permanent one is being made. It is pre-made to be placed in one appointment. Although they may not have the best cosmetic appearance, they are very durable.
Gold Alloys Crowns
Crown made from gold alloys normally comprise of gold, copper and other metals. They provide a strong crown for the tooth structure. It is resistant to fracture and wear. It also does not wear away the teeth it covers. Gold alloys crowns are highly bio-compatible with the gum tissue.
These material closely resembles the texture and appearance of a natural tooth. They are stronger than ceramic and porcelain crowns. They are also popular than most materials since they integrate with the gum and other teeth better.
Base Metal Alloys Crowns
They contain non-noble metals and as a result are very difficult to corrode and provide great strength to the crown and tooth. As the metal alloys are very durable the dentist will only shave a small amount from the natural teeth to prepare the tooth using base metal alloys. Base metal alloys crowns are also very gentle to opposing teeth and will not damage when a patient bites or grinds their teeth as the metal is very soft.
Frequently Asked Questions - Dental Crowns
Dental crowns are popular in most hospitals. But before a patient goes to the dental section of the hospital, he/she may have questions about this type of teeth restoration. Here is a look at the answers to the most common questions patients ask.
Does a Crowned Tooth Require Special Care?
Your crown may not need a special care, just the normal care you give to your ‘real’ tooth. It is however important to understand that the underlying tooth is not protected by the crown from decay and gum disease. This is why you must stick to a good oral hygiene practice.
Is it Painful to Get a Crown?
Patients will only need a local aesthetic to remain comfortable during the crowning process. There may be mild toothaches and sensitivity but with painkillers, patient will be fine. But in case the pain is severe and prolonged, make sure you see a dentist.
Why is it Called a Crown?
They are called so because they fit over the top of your remaining tooth. They are also referred to as dental caps.
Are Crowns Thicker Than Normal Teeth?
The materials used to make the crown determine how thick the crown will be. Normally, the thickness ranges from 0.5-2 millimetres on the sides and around 1.5 millimetres on the chewing surface. As compared to porcelain crowns, metal crowns are thinner.
Is There a Difference Between the Crown and a Real Tooth?
There is normally a difference when you compare your metal crown to your teeth. However, tooth colour crowns can be made indistinguishable from your existing teeth.
Can a Dental Crown be Whitened?
No. Unlike the real teeth, materials that make the crown don’t respond to whitening treatments. If you decide to whiten the natural enamel, the crown will be different from the rest of the teeth. As part of your smile makeover, you can whiten your teeth before having a dental crown or replace your crown with a lighter one.
What are the Alternatives to Dental Crown?
A dental bridge can replace missing teeth. For tooth decay, fillings, onlays and inlays might work. Dental bonding can also restore chipped or cracked teeth instead of a crown. Porcelain veneers or a combination of orthodontics and teeth whitening can help you achieve a purely cosmetic treatment.
Can I Undergo Orthodontics if I Have a Crown?
You can correct crookedness even if you already have a dental crown. However, the traditional braces may not rectify such a situation if the crown is made of metal or porcelain. This is why clear plastic aligners is recommended. You may have to wait until your treatment is over if you are considering replacing your crown at the time of orthodontics.
How Long Will a Dental Crown Last?
Since dental crowns aren’t the natural teeth, they will not last forever. However, they can last a long time if good care is given to them. Research shows that more than 90% of crowns will be intact for more than five years before any other major treatment is done to them. However, 50 to 80% of crowns will last between 15 and 20 years.
Patients should understand that just like the normal tooth, crowns will last as long as good care is adhered to. A dentist will tell you of the dental hygiene practices to care for your dental crowns and your entire mouth in general.
How Should I Care for my Temporary Dental Crown?
The temporary dental crowns are just that—temporary crowns until a permanent crown is ready. Dentists will normally ask you to take precautions with a temporary crown. These includes:
- Avoid chewy and sticky foods like caramel and chewing gum. They have the potential of grabbing and eventually pulling off the crown.
- Minimize use of the side of your mouth where the temporary crown has been fixed. Use the other side of the mouth.
- Hard foods such as raw vegetables can dislodge or break the crown so such should be avoided.
What Problems Could Develop with a Dental Crown?
Since this is not your natural tooth, you may feel some discomfort and sensitivity. Immediately after the procedure, you may feel some sensitivity on your newly crowned tooth since the anaesthesia will start wearing off. In case the tooth that was crowned still has a nerve, patients are bound to experience cold or heat sensitivity.
A dentist will recommend that you brush your teeth with a toothpaste designed for such teeth. The sensitivity or pain that occurs when you bite down means the crown is too high on your tooth. This is a problem that can be fixed when you call your dentist.
Other problems that could develop include a chipped crown especially those made of all porcelain. A loose crown can also be a problem especially when the cement washes out from under your crown. In worst cases, the crown may fall off due to improper fit or lack of cement.