In instances where damage to a person’s tooth or teeth is extreme and beyond repair, crowns can be employed to make the smile appear “as new”.
This is an extremely reliable technique for repairing the most severe of dental problems, including permanently replacing missing teeth to offer a full smile and an ideal bite.
Crowns provide a long lasting correction for a host of major dental problems. It is usual for these treatments to last for 20 to 30 years, or as close to permanent as dental treatment can get.
Crowns are custom designed to fit your mouth. We will identify many factors when helping you decide the best option for you.
Applying a crown requires a minimum of two visits to the dentist.
During the primary visit, decay will be removed and the tooth will be shaped in preparation of the crown. An impression of your teeth will be made and a temporary crown will be placed in your mouth. During your second visit, the temporary crown will be replaced with the permanent crown, which will be adjusted to fit your mouth and your bite.
Why Are Crowns Used?
A crown is a restoration that covers – or “caps” – a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size. Its purpose is to strengthen or improve the tooth and its appearance as well. A crown is placed for a number of reasons:
- to support a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth structure remaining
- to attach a bridge
- to protect weak teeth from fracturing (or a fractured tooth from breaking further)
- to cover badly shaped or discolored teeth
- to cover a dental implant
Which Material is Best?
Both the “look” and function of your crowns are considered when choosing the materials most suitable for you. Your dentist will consider the tooth location, the position of the gum tissue, the amount of tooth that shows when you smile, the color or shade of the tooth and the function of the tooth.
Crowns are made from a number of materials. Gold alloys or non-precious alloys, porcelain or ceramic, acrylic or composite resin or combinations of these materials may be used. Porcelain attached to a durable metal shell is commonly used because of its strength. Crowns made entirely of porcelain may look better; however, they usually aren’t as strong. In the process of making the crown, the porcelain is colored to blend in with your natural teeth.
How is a Crown Placed?
There are several steps involved in placing a crown. At least two visits are necessary.
At the first visit your dentist will take an impression of the tooth’s shape and size. Then they will prepare the tooth by removing any decay, any old fillings that are causing problems, and removing the outer portion of the tooth to accommodate the thickness of the crown. If there isn’t enough tooth structure after the decay has been removed, some filling material will be placed to build it back up (actually called a “buildup” instead of a filling!). Then an impression is made to provide an exact model of the prepared tooth and a shade recorded.
This second impression is what goes to the dental lab where the technician will use it and the shade provided by your dentist to make your new crown.
Before you leave this first appointment, your dentist will use the first impression they took at the beginning of your appointment to make a temporary crown, which will be cemented on with temporary cement.
This try-in/cement appointment must be made two weeks from your first appointment to allow enough time for your crown to be made. At that visit, the dentist will remove your temporary and try your brand new crown, making sure it fits perfectly. After you and your dentist are satisfied the crown is perfect, then he or she will cement it in place with permanent cement.
What Do I Do if My Temporary Crown Comes Off?
When you leave your initial appointment, you will be given instructions on how to care for your temporary crown. The majority of them stay on just fine, but sometimes they can come off. In that situation, you might be able to pop it back on yourself. If that doesn’t work, or if the tooth underneath is too sensitive with it off, call your dentist’s office. They will schedule you for a quick appointment where, as long as the temporary didn’t break or crack when it came off, they will re-cement it for you.
Why is My Temporary Crown Sensitive?
There are a few reasons this can happen. The first day or so after your crown prep appointment may mean a sore jaw from holding your mouth open, sore gums near the injection site when the dentist numbed the area, or a sore tooth due to the work done. Sensitivity that continues is most likely caused from the temporary being a more porous material, meaning hot and cold temperatures get through it easier.
Not everyone has this issue, but for those who experience it, little can be done to make it feel better. However, at your appointment, your dentist will tell you to try to avoid chewing on the side of the temporary, or to drink through a straw while one is on. Another reason could be due to the seal of the temporary. During the crown prep, your gums become irritated around the tooth being worked on, which is normal, but causes them to become slightly inflamed. Once the gum tissue settles back down a couple days later, that can cause a gap between the temporary and your gums, creating a small gap in an area or two where temperatures can get in and irritate the tooth underneath.
Be sure to call your dentist if you have sensitivity with a new temporary crown that lasts longer than three days. Your new crown will be a much stronger material and temperatures will not bother it at all. It will also have a perfect fit thanks to the impressions your dentist took at your crown prep appointment.
How Long Will My New Crown Last?
It all depends on how well you take care of your new crown. When they are taken care of correctly, they can last 15 or more years before needing replacing. Proper care includes brushing twice a day and cleaning between your teeth and the crown daily with floss, which is especially important when you have crowns. Keeping your teeth clean and healthy means your gums are healthy too.
Unhealthy gums recede, which will cause a gap between your crown and your gums where bacteria can create problems. This would cause a cavity underneath your permanent crown.