It’s easiest to think of a dental crown as a sort of cap for a tooth. These caps help to restore the tooth’s size and shape. Dental crowns also look like teeth, so they improve appearance. Once the dentist cements the crown in place, it will cover the visible portion of the tooth.
Who Needs Dental Crowns?
There are many reasons why dentists might suggest crowns. These are some of the most common cases that would motivate a dentist to suggest a crown:
- * If a tooth has become so decayed that it might break, the crown can hold the parts together and protect them.
- * If a tooth already broke, the crown will protect it and restore appearance.
- * Sometimes dentists use crowns to hold dental bridges in place.
- * Dental crowns might also get suggested for cosmetic use if the tooth is discolored or misshapen.
What Materials Do Dentists Use In Crowns?
Dentists might also suggest crowns that are made out of different kinds of materials. The material may depend upon the crown’s use or the patient’s needs. For instance:
- * Children often get stainless steel crowns over their baby teeth. These crowns are meant to come out when the baby tooth naturally falls out. They don’t look like natural teeth, but they’re cheaper and easier to install.
- * Metal crowns actually are very durable and can last longer than many materials. The problem is that they don’t look like natural teeth, so dentists may only suggest these for teeth that aren’t typically visible.
- * Ceramic crowns can be made to look almost exactly like natural teeth. Typically, the dentist or dental assistants will even match the color of the patient’s natural teeth. This is what dentists usually suggest when the teeth are visible because they are in the front of the mouth.
Very often, getting a crown requires two appointments. The dentist may make a temporary crown in his office for the patient to wear home after the first appointment for both appearance and to protect the tooth. They may use a kind of resin because it’s easier to work with, but this resin won’t last as long and will also discolor easily. Most of the time, dentists make a mold of the new crown and send it to a crown company. The crown company will use that mold to create the permanent tooth. This may take a week or two, so the patient will have to come back for another appointment.
How Are Teeth Prepared for Dental Crowns?
If a lot of the tooth is still there, the dentist might need to file it down to make room for the crown. If most of the tooth is missing, the dentist may actually have to use special materials to build it up to hold the crown in place. Generally, the patient has anesthesia before this is done.
Though many dentists make impressions of the tooth to send off to the crown lab, some dentists have begun to use high-tech scanning equipment. This equipment can create a digital image of the existing tooth that the company can use to create a permanent crown.
If the dentist has done a good job, a permanent crown should feel just like a regular tooth to the patient. Sometimes, there is a bit of pain and sensitivity for a few days, but this should diminish with time. Even though permanent crowns are meant to last a lifetime, sometimes they do chip, break, or even fall off. Dentists may be able to repair them, but they usually will have to replace them.