A crown is a treatment which covers, or caps, a damaged tooth. Teeth get damaged by decay, accidents, discolouration, and prior dental treatments. Your dentist carefully uses a mixture of materials to fabricate a tooth-shaped chewing surface, and installs it over the remaining parts of the tooth. Materials used may include porcelain over metal, all porcelain, porcelain over a nonmetal, or all metal. Crowns are designed to match the rest of your teeth, making them unnoticeable to others. New options are coming available all the time, so talk to your dentist about current recommendations. This page answers common questions about crowns.
Building a crown requires a series of visits to the dentist. In preparation for capping the tooth, the dentist will grind down the outside of your tooth so your crown appears the same size as the original tooth. Then a set of impressions are taken of the affected tooth, surrounding teeth, and teeth on the opposite side of the mouth. A temporary cap is placed while the permanent crown is created.
Using the impressions, a trained dental technician construct a crown to match the exact space required. Finally, the dentist removes the temporary cap and attaches the new permanent crown securely in the correct position. Local anaesthetic makes this procedure no more difficult than a regular filling.
Sometimes a tooth has experienced significant decay or damage. When a tooth has already had a root canal, the procedure for a crown differs slightly. In this case, the dentist fabricates a post and core which will be inserted into the root and then the core is built up on the post. Then a crown is attached onto the post. If needed, this post-crown method can sometimes be avoided by building up the filled root to the required shape of a regular tooth. Then the crown can be attached on the core.
Getting used to a new crown may take some times. When the dentist check that it is properly seated, he will cement it in place and seal it down. Once it is adjusted you should almost be able to forget it is there, as long as you remember to care for it properly.
A crown does not last forever, but careful attention can help it last as long as possible. Although the material itself is quite durable, the natural tooth underneath the crown is vulnerable to collecting debris and experiencing decay. For this reason, adequate oral hygiene will preserve your dental work and keep you out of the dentist’s chair.