What is a “ dental crown”?
Dental crown is an outer shell placed as a covering to a damaged tooth to restore its shape, strength, and function. Dental crown is recommended for teeth that are severely decayed, broken, weakened or cracked. Dental crowns look identical to natural teeth and are made from porcelain, metal, gold or a combination of the three.
Dental crowns can also be placed on teeth where fillings repeatedly dislodge as a more definitive form of treatment.
Dental crowns are routinely placed on back teeth that have been root canal treated as they are brittle and susceptible to cracks.
A crown procedure usually requires a couple of visits.
The first stage involvess an examination and assessment of the tooth structure and colour. In order to assess if a tooth is suitable for a crown, sometimes the existing filling may have to be removed and replaced with a new filling. X-rays will have to be taken to aid in the overall assessment. This will also allow the dentist to provide an accurate quote for the cost of the crown.
Local anaesthetic (an injection) will have to be used if the tooth is not root canal treated. Some numbing cream will be placed on your gums before you have an injection. You will feel numb which is a sensation of feeling ‘fat’ in that area.
The second stage requires the tooth to be reshaped to specific dimensions. An impression of your teeth will be then taken. Some material will be squirted on your tooth and you will have to bite on material that feels similar to Playdough in a tray for a few minutes. The dentist will construct a temporary crown for you. This will be placed on your tooth with temporary cement. The impression will be sent to a dental laboratory where the dental crown is fabricated. Some sensitivity may be experienced if the tooth is not root canal treated. As the crown is only temporary, extra care must be taken during eating, brushing and flossing.
At the final stage, the temporary crown will be removed. The tooth is cleaned and the dental crown will be fitted in and checked. Some minor adjustments of the bite may be necessary. A small X-ray may be taken. If satisfactory, this crown will be cemented in place with extremely strong cement.
Good oral hygiene and regular check-ups are required to maintain the longevity of a crown. Habits such as grinding or chewing hard food or other objects can damage or fracture your crown.
The difference between a crown and a veneer is how much tooth it covers.
Crowns tend to encase the entire tooth, whereas veneers only cover the front surface. Veneers tend to be used for aesthetic reasons, as it offers minimal protection. Veneers tend to be placed on teeth whose underlying tooth structure is healthy and strong.
When is a dental crown required?
Dental crowns are generally needed to reinforce and give strength to teeth. These instances include:
- After root canal treatment to protect brittle teeth to prevent fracture
- To mask discolored teeth
- To restore teeth fractured in accidents / trauma
- To reinforce a large filling which cannot withstand occlusal forces without fracturing