Dental crowns are long-lasting and durable tooth prosthetics. They can be a metal alloy or a more natural-looking porcelain. Unlike cosmetic dental treatments, crowns are usually included in dental plan coverage. This makes them a budget-friendly option for tooth restoration.
Dental crowns are designed to strengthen and restore damaged and decayed teeth.
Why Choose Dental Crowns?
Crowns can be used for a wide variety of purposes. Dr. Alexander might recommend a crown for you if:
- You have a deeply cracked, worn or fractured tooth
- You have a tooth with a large cavity
- You are undergoing a root canal
- You have a tooth that is abnormally small, strangely shaped or very discolored
Dental crowns are often used in conjunction with other restorative dentistry treatments. For example, crowns can anchor a bridge in place on either side of a missing tooth. With dental implants, a porcelain crown is a finishing touch to create a natural looking smile again.
Dental Crowns Procedure Overview
Crowns are fitted as part of a two-stage process. During your first visit, your tooth is evaluated using x-rays to determine the amount of damage that needs to be repaired. You will discuss which type of crown you want for your restoration. If you choose a porcelain crown, you will go through a color matching process to pick the right shade to match your surrounding teeth. Your tooth will be prepared by removing a portion of the enamel all the way around and across the top. If the area of decay is significant, a filler material may be used to build up the damaged part of the tooth so it can support a crown.
After this, a mold will be made of the treated tooth as well as the opposing and adjacent teeth. This mold is sent to a dental lab so a custom crown with the correct size, shape and biting surface can be fabricated. You will be fitted with a temporary acrylic crown to cover up the prepared tooth. When your customized crown arrives, it will be bonded to your tooth using a strong dental cement. Any final shaping and polishing will be done at this stage. The goal is to ensure that your restored tooth looks good and is comfortable to use for biting and chewing. Occasionally, patients need a repeat visit to make minor adjustments to the crown.
A local anesthetic is used during both the preparation and installation phases. Any tooth sensitivity after the anesthetic wears off should be temporary. Your crown should feel comfortable and natural when it is properly installed and fitted.
More Information about Dental Crowns
Some crowns are made of porcelain to mimic the appearance of enamel. Others are metal alloys such as gold, nickel or chromium. Patients who want the benefits of a realistic tooth restoration with a strong metal base can choose a crown that is porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM). Dr. Alexander offers the following options:
- Metal crowns (even gold alloy crowns) are often less expensive than porcelain restorations. Gold crowns are typically the simplest to install since the metal is easy to work with. Metal dental crowns are very strong but not hard enough to wear down the opposing tooth during biting and chewing. They don’t look like natural teeth and are most commonly used for restoring molars.
- Porcelain (ceramic) crowns are slightly translucent and carefully color-matched to look like real teeth. These crowns may be slightly more brittle than metal and can be tough on opposing teeth during chewing. They are most commonly used to restore front teeth.
- PFM dental crowns offer the long-lasting durability of a metal base with the natural look of a porcelain coating. However, since the porcelain is layered over metal, it will look opaque and slightly less realistic. In addition, the metal base of the crown may be visible along the edge of the crown. This problem will be more noticeable if your gums recede over time.
No matter which material you choose, you will need to take care of your crown for long lasting results. This includes regular brushing and flossing and avoiding foods or habits (like chewing ice) that could damage the restoration. Contact us today for more information.