What Is A Dental Crown?
Dental crowns are custom-made, tooth-shaped coverings that dentists place over damaged teeth.
A dental crown will be placed on top of a broken tooth to restore the tooth’s shape, look, and strength.
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A damaged tooth that is structurally compromised due to extensive tooth decay, for instance, can’t be fixed with dental fillings.
Dentists or paediatric dentists use dental crowns if there is not sufficient tooth structure left to support a dental filling.
The Purpose of Dental Crowns
When Is A Dental Crown Needed?
Dental crowns can improve the health of a weak tooth and prevent:
- further decay or damage to the tooth
- the tooth’s future removal
Dental crowns can restore a fractured or broken tooth and:
- improve its appearance
- offer a natural-looking smile
Dentists use a dental crown to:
- cover a dental implant
- cover teeth with larger fillings
- cover severely discolored teeth
- apply cosmetic modification
- support dental bridges and hold them in place
Types of Dental Crowns
Different materials are used for dental crowns, which patients can choose from based on their needs and budget.
Metal crowns rarely chip or fracture and are highly durable and long-lasting.
A metal crown is strong and can effectively tolerate biting and chewing forces.
These crowns are resistant to decay or wear and tear and are suitable for people with teeth grinding.
A metal crown:
- requires little removal of the tooth structure
- will not wear down the teeth they bite against
- suits the teeth at the back of our mouth (the out-of-sight molars)
- does not have the same shade as natural teeth
- can cost more than other crown types
Porcelain Fused to Metal Crowns
Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are made of a combination of two components.
The inside part of these crowns is metal and will be covered by porcelain on top; therefore, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns offer strength and aesthetics.
A porcelain-fused-to-metal crown can be used for front and back teeth.
This type of dental crown is typically less expensive than all-porcelain crowns.
Drawbacks of porcelain fused to metal crowns include:
- the porcelain part can fracture
- the metal part may show a grey shade at the gum line
- there is an increased risk of wearing the opposing teeth in comparison with metal or resin crowns
All Resin Dental Crowns
Resin dental crowns, also known as composite resin dental crowns, are more affordable than other crowns.
An all-resin dental crown is typically used as a temporary crown until the permanent crown is ready.
A resin dental crown:
- does not cost much
- can be used to protect a tooth after root canal treatment
- will not wear down the opposing teeth
- provides medium strength and aesthetics
- may not be as strong as other dental crowns
- may stain, chip, or crack easily
- can wear and tear
- cannot tolerate the forces of biting or chewing
All-Ceramic Crowns or All-Porcelain Crowns
All-ceramic crowns also referred to as all-porcelain crowns, are the most popular dental crowns among patients who prefer a metal-free alternative.
- translucent and natural-looking
- color-matched to normal teeth
- a great option for front teeth
- suitable for those who are allergic to a metal dental crown
- can wear the opposite teeth
- require a large amount of tooth to be removed
- not as strong as porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crowns
To mimic the light handling characteristics of a natural tooth, the dental technician will use a thick layer of translucent porcelain.
Zirconia crown is the strongest type of ceramic crown and an affordable alternative to gold crowns.
Zirconia crowns are mainly popular because of their strength and durability.
- are strong and durable
- are biocompatible
- are stain resistant
- are a good option for people with teeth grinding habit
- provide good aesthetics
- do not require much maintenance
- do not require a large amount of tooth to be removed
- can cause the adjacent teeth to wear down
- are less translucent than natural teeth
Preparing a Tooth for a Dental Crown
A General Overview of Dental Crown Procedure
Patients typically require two dental office visits to complete a dental crown procedure.
During the first appointment, the dentist will examine the tooth and its surrounding bone to ensure no signs of tooth decay or injury to the tooth’s pulp exist.
In some cases, dentists may need to perform another dental treatment first, like a root canal, to prepare the tooth for a crown.
If insufficient tooth structure has remained to support a dental crown, the dentist will first use filling material to build up the tooth structure and make it large enough for a crown.
After preparing and reshaping the tooth, an impression of the tooth will be made using a paste or putty and sent to a dental laboratory.
Meanwhile, the dentist may place a temporary crown on the prepared tooth until the new crown (permanent dental crown) is ready.
The second visit involves the dentist removing the temporary crown and replacing it with a permanent crown.
The permanent crown will be permanently cemented on the prepared tooth with a special dental adhesive.
Final permanent crowns will match the shape, size, and color of other teeth in the patient’s mouth.
Dental Crowns and Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening is one of the most popular dental procedures in cosmetic dentistry. Teeth whitening can lighten up darkened or stained teeth and offer a more desirable smile.
According to the American Dental Association, Teeth Whitening will not affect a crowned tooth. Patients who desire a brighter smile will need to discuss the matter with their dentist before they begin their dental crown treatment.
How Long do Dental Crowns Last?
Several factors can affect the longevity of your dental crown.
- The type and material of the dental crown
- Practicing proper oral hygiene
- Avoiding harmful personal mouth-related habits
Generally, dental crowns can last anywhere from 5 to 15 years.
Replacing Dental Crowns
Does a Dental Crown Need to Be Replaced?
Dental crowns may need to be replaced due to wear and tear, trauma or damage, or tooth decay.
The dentist may suggest another dental treatment if the tooth underneath the crown has gone through extensive dental decay and can no longer be restored.
The dental expert may recommend treatment options, such as a dental implant procedure or dental bridge, instead of a new crown.
Your old crown may need to be replaced or repaired due to the following reasons:
- chipped crown
- the crown falls repeatedly
- wear and tear over time
- the crown feels loose
- the crown has lost its aesthetics and natural vitality
- there is a sign of decay of the underlying tooth
A worn old crown can cause your is prone to chip and fracture and can lead to infection.
Make sure you visit your dentist immediately if:
- your dental crowns feel loose
- you see signs of a chip or crack in your dental crown
- you are experiencing heat and cold sensitivity
How to Take of Your Newly Crowned Tooth
Do Dental Crowns Require Special Care?
No special care is required!
Practicing good dental hygiene, brushing teeth twice a day, and flossing between teeth at least once daily is necessary to prevent tooth decay or gum disease.
Follow a proper oral hygiene routine and be strict about your regular dental checkups to enjoy a healthy mouth and increase the lifespan of your dental crown.
What Are Onlays?
While regular dental crowns cover the entire tooth down to the gum line, Onlays cover only a part of the tooth and do not require the removal of your healthy tooth structure.
Onlays are smaller than dental crowns and can be fabricated from different materials such as resin, porcelain, or gold.