Crowns are similar to veneers but work on teeth that are weaker, more brittle or worn. Unlike veneers, a crown (or cap) is a covering that encases the entire tooth. A crown serves to protect and strengthen a tooth that has had a root canal performed or a tooth that cannot be restored with any other type of treatment. Crowns are an excellent choice to restore tooth structure and should provide many years of good service.
Dental crowns, also called caps, fit over worn or damaged teeth. They can also serve a cosmetic purpose, restoring a discolored tooth to its former hue. Your dentist may fit you with a temporary crown to protect a damaged tooth while making the permanent crown. Depending on the material used to make them, the wear they get, and the care they receive, permanent crowns last about 5 to 15 years.
Who Needs Dental Crowns?
Crowns serve many purposes in restorative and cosmetic dentistry. They are an integral part of providing support to weakened or broken teeth. Untreated dental problems can lead to jaw pain, headaches, and bite anomalies that could further damage otherwise healthy teeth.
When Your Dentist Will Recommend Crowns:
- You have lost one tooth, and due to its gap, the remaining have shifted from their positions, and they have lost their exact position causing gaps between the teeth or causing a bad bite. In this case, your porcelain crown helps you restore the shifted tooth and fixes the bad bite.
- Due to excessive decay, the teeth have been damaged severely.
- Teeth have been discolored, and it is presenting a bad aesthetic.
- Teeth have been fractured due to some accidents and it is causing pain and presenting a bad look as well.
- Due to a new bridge the adjacent teeth were resized and reduced and they are now in need of a crown to fulfill the bad texture.
Porcelain crowns have the most natural look and are generally indistinguishable from natural teeth. Due to advancements in ceramics, they are every bit as strong as metal or PFM (Porcelain fused to metal) crowns. New CAD/CAM techniques allow dentists to create crowns more quickly. Porcelain crowns made in this way wear at the same rate as natural teeth.
How Crowns Are Applied
Your dentist will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area before preparing teeth to receive crowns. Biting on carbon paper shows how your teeth meet, ensuring the crown will not interfere with your bite. After the bite impression, you will be fitted with a dental dam to protect the rest of your mouth from tooth dust and keep the restoration site dry. With a high-speed drill, the dentist will then reshape any teeth needing crowns.
Reshaping may involve minor filing, or it could necessitate the removal of more material to leave a peg-like anchor point for the crown. The amount of your natural tooth that must be removed depends on the type of crown you’re getting and the reason for the restoration.
After shaping the tooth to prepare it for the crown, your dentist will take another bite impression. This step is essential to making the cap fit the remaining tooth perfectly. If you are getting same-day porcelain crowns, you have only a 20-minute wait. Keep in mind that metal and PFM crowns take more time to prepare. You will get a temporary acrylic crown and return in a few weeks to get the permanent crown fitted. In either case, the dentist will apply cement to the crown and press it into place.
If you get temporary crowns, ask your dentist about specific care requirements until the permanent crowns are ready. Here are some common precautions to take with temporary crowns include:
- Chewing on the other side of your mouth.
- Avoiding caramel, toffee and other sticky foods that could loosen the dental work.
- Sliding floss from between the crowned teeth instead of lifting it free.
Caring for Dental Crowns
Your new crowns look, feel and behave like your natural teeth, and they need the same care. Follow the brushing and flossing schedule your dentist recommends. Metal-based crowns may feel more sensitive to heat and cold initially but should adjust quickly. Contact your dentist if you notice the following concerns after receiving crowns.
- Difficulty or pain when chewing
- Pain in your head or jaw
- Loosening or wiggling of the crown
- Rough or jagged spots that could indicate a chipped porcelain crown