Also known as a ‘cap’, these are a popular answer for broken, weakened or damage teeth, as they encase the area and protect the remaining parts of the tooth against any further damage. Having a crown fitted might be preferable to having your tooth removed and a new one inserted as they strengthen the remaining tooth structure and allow the tooth to continue to be used.
Dental crowns are used:
• When a filling won’t hold the tooth together after a lot of damage has been inflicted, for example in the case of root fillings.
• To strengthen teeth after treatments such as root canals
• To prevent acid erosion, especially for patients who have a poor diet or who grind their teeth excessively.
• To cover up a filling that is noticeable due to its colour.
• To hold dentures or fixtures in place better.
Dental Crown Materials
There are many different combinations of materials used to make crowns and as advances in dentistry occur, the popularity of the materials changes.
• Porcelain and precious metal – this is the most common form of crown. The metal is applied first with the porcelain placed over the top to ensure aesthetic value. Sometimes, however, this combination can create dark lines around the gum which can be very noticeable.
• Porcelain – these slightly lack in strength but look very natural. Their colour and aesthetic value makes them mostly used for the front teeth.
• Ceramic – this is a very modern method and is very strong while also looking natural. These can be used for any teeth.
• Glass – look very natural and can be used for molars or front teeth.
• Gold alloy – the oldest material for tooth repair, gold is often used now with other metals to increase the strength of the crown. They are very strong although also very noticeable being silver or gold.
Fitting a Dental Crown
Your dentist will need to ensure that your tooth is fully prepared for the fitting of a dental crown. This includes cleaning it and removing any decay from the tooth while you have a local anaesthetic. Sometimes you will need to have your tooth reshaped to allow a crown to be properly fitted, and the outside of the tooth is generally removed to ensure this.
You will have a mould made of your tooth so that the crown can be made to fit your tooth accurately in the lab. Impressions will also be made of the opposite jaw and possible elsewhere to ensure that the crown made for you will fit in with the rest of your mouth, leaving your bite unaffected. While the lab is making your crown you will be fitted with a temporary one so that you aren’t in any pain and there is no more damage to the tooth. It might take one or two weeks before your crown is ready. When you, and your dentist, are happy with the look and the fit of your crown it will be fitted to the tooth using cement or a dental adhesive.
Your New Dental Crown
Your dentist will try hard to make the crowns’ colour match that of your other teeth. As such it ought to be unnoticeable once fitted. You will be aware of the crown for the first few days after it has been fitted as the surface will feel different to your other teeth. After a while this will stop being so obvious and you will forget it is any different. Sometimes you might need to have your crown adjusted if it is affecting your bite.
Life Length of a Dental Crown
How long your dental crown lasts depends on the material it is made from and how well you care for your teeth. Dental crowns do need to be looked after, and if this is so they can last around ten years, sometimes longer.
Caring for a Dental Crown
You will be given advice on how to look after your dental crown by your dentist. As a general rule, however, you will need to continue a good level of general oral hygiene and try to avoid teeth grinding or chewing on hard foods. The crown itself will not decay, but the area to the bottom of the crown and the tooth beneath needs to be kept as clean as possible.