A dental crown is placed over a tooth in order to cover it as well as restore its shape, improve its strength and enhance its appearance. The crown is essentially a cap that fits over the tooth and also covers the area of the tooth that can be seen at the gum line as well as above it.
There are a variety of situations where a crown might be necessary to help a patient, including restoring a tooth that is broken or worn down, supporting a tooth that has been worn down, protecting a weak tooth from breaking, holding a dental bridge in place and covering teeth that are misshaped. There are a number of crowns available for dentists to choose from when treating a patient. Some of the materials crowns can be made of include resin, ceramic, stainless steel and metals and they can also be temporary or permanent.
- Resins are less expensive than other crowns but they are subject to more wear and tear and can easily fracture. They are made of composite material similar to the material used for normal color fillings in the mouth. They are very natural looking.
- Ceramic crowns are a good choice for patients who have minimal space in their mouth for a crown. They are made from a thin material which also makes them lighter than other crowns.
- Stainless steel crowns are prefabricated which means they are made ahead of time. They are mainly used as a temporary measure to protect the tooth while the dentist and patient are waiting for the permanent crown to be ready to be placed in the mouth of the patient.
- Metals that are used in making crowns can include gold alloy, nickel and chromium. Less tooth structure is required to be removed when metal crowns are used and they are also subject to less wear than other crowns. They are also less likely to chip or break.
- The difference between temporary and permanent crowns depends on where they are manufactured. Temporary crowns are made in a dentist’s office and are normally made of acrylic or stainless steel. On the other hand, permanent crowns are made off-site in a dental laboratory.
In order for a tooth to be prepared for wearing a crown, two trips to the dentist are usually required. The first visit is when the dentist examines the tooth and determines which type of crown will be placed on the tooth. The second trip to the dentist is when the crown is placed on the tooth.
Before the dentist begins the process of making a crown, the tooth and the gum area around the tooth are numbed. The dentist then removes some of the material around the tooth in order to make room for the crown. The total amount removed depends on the type of crown that the dentist is using to achieve the desired results. If a good portion of the tooth is missing thanks to trauma or decay, the dentist will have to use some filler material in order to build up the tooth and make it easier for the tooth to support the crown.
Once the tooth is reshaped, the dentist will make an impression of the tooth to be used in making the crown. The impression helps the dentist make sure that the crown will not affect the bite of the patient once it is made. It normally takes about two to three weeks for the crown to be manufactured and returned to the dentist. In the meantime, the dentist will make a temporary crown that protects the tooth that has been prepared by covering it. The temporary crown is held in place with temporary cement.
The follow-up appointment/second appointment to the dentist is when the temporary crown is removed from the patient’s mouth. The permanent crown is placed once the dentist determines that it properly fits and blends in naturally with the colors of the other teeth. A local anesthetic is utilized to numb the tooth which allows the dentist to cement the new crown into place in the mouth.
The type of crown that is used depends on the needs of the individual patient. Patients interested in learning more about the use of crowns to correct their dental issues should consult with an experienced and board-certified dentist.