The tooth-shaped ‘caps’ that is placed over your tooth is called the dental crowns.
The crown helps to cover the tooth to restore its strength, shape and size, and improve its appearance.
Your crown is cemented into place, fully encapsulating the entire visible portion of your natural tooth that lies above your gum line.
Why Is a Dental Crown Needed?
You may need a crown in case you encounter any of the following situations:
- In order to protect a weak tooth (for instance, from a decayed tooth) from breaking down or to hold together parts of a cracked tooth.
- For restoring a tooth that has been severely worn down.
- You may need it to hold a dental bridge in place.
- For supporting a tooth with a large filling when there’s not much portion of the tooth left
- To cover severely discolored or misshapen tooth.
- You may also need a crown to make a cosmetic modification.
The anatomy of your teeth is such that the crown is the section of the natural teeth that is visible in your mouth.
Hence in case, there’s any damage to your actual crown, a crown is required for your tooth restoration. You can have a variety of situations wherein you will require your tooth to be restored with a crown.
Here we discuss a few of the common scenarios.
When your tooth has a fracture or cavity that has affected more than half the width of the tooth, it needs to be covered with a crown.
If you skip this step, then the remaining tooth around the large filling becomes weak and prone to fracture.
Also, in a scenario where you have a large filling in your mouth for a while, you need to replace that tooth with a crown because the tooth might show signs of cracks around the filling.
If you have undergone a root canal treatment, your tooth would have been left hollow, influencing the remaining tooth to crack in the long run.
So, if your tooth has a root canal done, you would require to restore it with a crown immediately to prevent it from cracking.
Cracked Tooth Syndrome
if you have a condition whereby you have fractures inside your tooth that cause pain when you chew food in a certain way.
When you chew your food, it produces stress on the fracture lines of your tooth, making it feel like it is splitting apart.
If you have a crown on the affected tooth, it will hold the tooth together and redistribute the stress evenly throughout your tooth.
In addition, it will also help in eliminating the pain in most instances.
In these situations, your dentist will leave a temporary crown on for a few days to make sure the pain goes away and the tooth doesn’t have to undergo a root canal treatment.
Undesirable Appearance of Teeth
If your teeth have an undesirable appearance due to shape, color, or spacing between teeth – crowns can make them look very natural and beautiful.
Veneers are also a similar concept and are a very effective and conservative way of enhancing the look of your front teeth.
They usually look very natural, and sometimes they do not even require shaving your existing teeth.
Another use of crowns is that they are usually put on dental implants to restore spaces left from missing teeth.
Your dentist might also use dental bridges, which are made from crowns, next to the spaces attached to false teeth.
Your dentist might also use crowns in case your teeth are loose. The crowns are then put on multiple teeth and splint together to provide more stability.
Which Types of Crowns Are Available?
You can choose from a variety of permanent crowns.
It can be made of stainless steel, porcelain-fused-to-metal, all metal (such as alloy or gold), all resin, or all ceramic.
a) Stainless Steel Crowns
Your dentist will use a stainless crown on your permanent teeth primarily as a temporary measure.
The crown protects your tooth temporarily, while a permanent crown is made from another material.
b) Metal Crowns
Metal used to make crowns include alloys that have a high content of platinum and gold or base-metal alloys like cobalt-chromium and nickel-chromium alloys.
These metal crowns will withstand the biting and chewing forces within your mouth and will probably last the longest in terms of wear down.
c) Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Dental Crowns
You can choose porcelain fused metal crown to match your adjacent teeth color. Remember porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns look most like normal teeth.
You can choose these crowns for your front or back teeth as well as for long bridges where the metal serves the purpose of providing strength.
d) All-Resin Dental Crowns
You can opt for these crowns as they are less expensive than other crown types.
e) All-Ceramic or All-Porcelain Dental Crowns
This category of crowns provide a better natural color match in comparison to the other crown types.
Moreover, people generally prefer it, especially those who are allergic to metal.
Procedure for Dental Crown
The process typically depends on whether your dentist opts for a same-day or a multi-day procedure. In most cases, dentists require two sittings for placing a crown on your teeth.
During the first dental visit, your dentist will examine and prepare the tooth that is to be crowned. The dentist might place a temporary crown to protect your tooth during the visit.
After the crown is ready, you need to visit the dentist the second time. The dentist will then remove the temporary crown and fix the permanent crown in its place.
a) Multi-Day Procedure
i) First Visit: Investigation, Tooth Reshaping, Impression and Temporary Crown
During your first dental visit, your dentist will take an X-ray of your tooth and jawbone to investigate the signs of decay and other factors which can increase the risk of infection or injury to the pulp of the tooth.
In some cases, you may be needing a root canal treatment prior to the placement of a crown on a tooth.
Post investigation, your dentist will then shape your teeth in order to make room for the crown to be placed.
The extent of reshaping required will depend on the type of crown you will be using.
In case you are opting for metal-based crowns; your dentist will require you to remove less portion of your tooth as compared to porcelain crowns.
Thereafter, in order to shape the tooth according to the crown, your dental expert would file down the sides and the top of your tooth.
Thereafter, the sides and top of your tooth are filed down to shape the tooth as needed for the crown.
Your dental expert would also treat any kind of tooth decay during this step.
If you have a tooth with severe decay or damage, and there is insufficient tooth structure remaining to place the crown, then you might need a filling material in order to build up the structure of the tooth for crown placement.
Post structuring of the tooth, the next step involves the creation of an impression of the shaped tooth, so that a crown can be made.
In order to ensure that the crown fits correctly on the other side of the mouth, your dental expert would take another impression on the opposing jaw that would come in contact with the crown.
A paste or putty serves the purpose of making dental impressions which holds the shape of the tooth.
The paste is spread over the area that you have to copy and then it would pull away.
This helps in retaining the shape of the relevant teeth on its surface.
At this juncture, recording of details such as natural fit and color carefully is important as these details will affect the production of your crown.
The colour of the crown should match that of your tooth and surrounding teeth so that one cannot notice the crown easily when it is placed inside your mouth.
Your session concludes when your dental expert places a temporary crown over your tooth to protect it.
It stays till time the permanent crown is ready from the dental impressions.
Your dental expert will remove the temporary crown during your second dental visit to make way for the permanent crown.
ii) Second Visit: Permanent Crown Placement
Post conclusion of the first visit, teeth impression then goes to the dental technician or laboratory to manufacture the crown in the correct shape.
This typically takes about three weeks, so your second visit date is set accordingly.
In the second visit, once the permanent crown is ready for placement, you would need to remove the temporary crown.
The area is numbed by applying a local anaesthetic during the procedure to fit the crown.
Dental cement serves the purpose of fixing the crown over the tooth.
You may require some small fine adjustments in order to the shape of the crown.
b) Same-Day Crowns Placement Procedure
In some cases, dentists can construct crowns in their own premises and can place them on the same day, without the need to send the impressions to an external dental laboratory.
Your dentist will use a scanning device called a wand to take pictures of the teeth instead of making an impression of the teeth.
Your dental expert would then upload the images of your teeth into a software that creates a 3D model of the tooth.
This digital model of your teeth then serves the purpose of creating a ceramic crown on the same day.
This procedure uses computer-aided design and when it comes to manufacturing, your crown takes only 15 minutes.
Dental Crown Aftercare
Once your dentist has placed the crown, you need to take good care of your teeth.
It is true that your crowned tooth does not require any special care.
But you need to remember that simply because your tooth has a crown does not mean it would protect it from decay or gum disease.
Hence you need to follow good oral hygiene practices, like brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing regularly, rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash and visiting your dentist periodically.
Especially for the crowned teeth, around the crown area where the gum meets your tooth.
Quick Tips for Aftercare
Few quick tips can prolong the life of your crowned teeth.
- Practice careful brushing twice a day. If you are not brushing your teeth twice a day, it’s time to start now. You can use toothpaste for sensitive teeth if your crown or the teeth are sensitive to heat or cold.
- It would help you if you flossed your teeth daily to keep them in good shape.
- Once you have your crown placed, avoid hard foods. Hard food might cause your crown to crack, especially if you are using a porcelain crown.
- If you have the habit of grinding your teeth at night. your dentist might recommend a night guard to protect your crown and teeth from the damaging effects of teeth grinding.
So, this pretty much sums all about dental crown, its purpose, benefits as well as the aftercare.