What is a dental crown and when would I need one?
A dental crown (also known as a “cap”) is a restoration that we use when a tooth is no longer a good candidate for a traditional filling and when we need to restore and protect teeth that have undergone endodontic treatment (root canal). There are many types of materials that we can use for crowns, and we will discuss some of these materials below.
Dental Crowns Protect and Preserve Damaged Teeth
They are usually necessary for teeth that have experienced:
- Endodontic Treatment (root canals)
- Large Cavities
- Large Fractures
- Failed, Old Fillings
- Dental Implants for Individual Missing Teeth
Rather than patching up a tooth with a filling, the crown covers the entire tooth. It allows the tooth to continue functioning normally. Regular biting and chewing is no longer a problem, whereas an unrestored tooth would break down over time.
How long does it take to make a dental crown?
A dental crown usually takes approximately two visits to make. At the first appointment we prepare (shape) the tooth for the crown, replace any missing tooth structure with materials that are similar to the ones we use when bonding teeth, and we take a mold. You will leave the office with a temporary crown in place, and when you return for the second visit, we will cement the crown with definitive cement.
What materials are used in dental crowns?
The materials we use in crowns depends upon the clinical situation. Generally speaking, PFM crowns (porcelain-fused-to-metal) are the workhorse of dental crown types and have been used successfully for decades; these crowns are especially well-suited for back teeth. While you can use a PFM crown in the front, improved ceramic technology allows us to fabricate what are known as all-ceramic crowns, which we use in clinical situations when esthetics are critical.
How long will a crown last?
Crowns are designed to last for many, many years and must be kept clean in order to maximize their benefit. Many people don’t realize it, but cavities can still form around the edges of even the most well-made crown, and as such proper brushing and flossing are important. And if a tooth has a crown and has had root canal treatment, home care and regular 6-month checkups are especially critical - because the tooth has no nerve, you will not feel it if a cavity begins to form.