What is a Dental Crown?

Different types of dental crowns

When teeth become weakened by chips or cracks, a dental crown provides strength and protection by completely fitting over the broken tooth. Also known as dental “caps”, they improve the appearance of damaged teeth by covering breaks and imperfections that can be caused by several factors, such as dental injury or grinding your teeth while sleeping. Crowns are also used to cap a tooth after a root canal.

Why are Crowns Needed?

If you are experiencing sensitivity or pain due to a tooth being chipped or broken, you could potentially be damaging the tooth even more by not seeing a dentist. By exposing the damaged tooth to food, drink and everyday wear and tear, you may develop an infection that could lead to more serious health issues. A professionally fitted crown could prevent further damage or risk of infection by protecting the tooth and stabilizing your natural bite. These are common situations in which a dentist will recommend a crown as the best treatment:

  1. A broken or chipped tooth. If one of your teeth is cracked or chipped, but there is no damage to the roots, a crown is most likely the best option to protect the sensitive tooth nerves below and allow patients to return to normal chewing habits.
  2. Large cavities. When a large cavity is removed, there’s often not enough tooth structure left to support a regular filling. In these cases, a crown can be placed over to the tooth to act as a splint to support and protect the tooth.
  3. Stained teeth. A tooth may become discolored for several reasons. Your dentist might recommend the use of a porcelain crown over the tooth to hide the stains if bonding or veneers are not the best options.
  4. Worn teeth. Many individuals grind their teeth while they sleep, leading to damage and wearing away protective enamel. A crown will provide protection to the worn tooth when teeth grinding cannot be prevented.

It’s important to see a dentist right away if you experience any of these issues with your teeth. Your dentist will be able to assess if a root canal or any other procedure might be required, but a simple dental crown is often all that is needed to fix the problem and prevent any further damage to the tooth.

What to Expect When Getting a Crown

dentist showing x-ray to patient

If you are considering getting a dental crown, dentists at Reno’s Absolute Dental will assess which type of crown will work best for your situation. Once that is determined, your dentist will prepare the tooth for your crown. This may involve filing down or building up the broken tooth so the crown will fit and adhere securely to the tooth. The dentist will then take an impression of the tooth to be sure the crown is perfectly molded to fit your tooth and the shape of your bite.

Once you are fitted for your permanent crown, a temporary crown will be placed over the broken tooth until the permanent one is ready. This can take a couple weeks as your impression is sent off and the crown is molded. It’s important to be very cautious while eating or brushing with your temporary crown. It is not designed for chewing hard or sticky foods and will most likely come off if these types of foods are not avoided. Your dentist will also recommend you chew on the other side of your mouth until your permanent crown can be installed.

When your permanent crown is ready, you will need to see your dentist for the final installation. The temporary crown is removed and the broken tooth is cleaned of any food particles that may have accumulated. The crown is then placed over the tooth and x-rays are taken to confirm the fit is tight and secure. Small adjustments may be made and your dentist will communicate with you during this process to make sure your bite feels comfortable and you don’t feel any pain or pressure from the new crown.

The last step is cementing in the new crown. The bonding material is incredibly strong and will permanently adhere the crown to your tooth. Once the cement and crown are applied, you will be asked to bite down to apply pressure and hold this position for a few minutes. Your dentist will most likely recommend you refrain from eating and drinking for a short period after the installation to ensure the bonding material thoroughly sets. With proper care and avoiding certain foods that may cause damage, your permanent crown could potentially last a lifetime and never need replacement.

What are the Different Types of Crowns?

different types of dental crowns

There are a total of four types of dental crowns available to patients. Depending on the individual’s needs and the extent of the damage to the tooth, your dentist will determine the best option from these choices:

Metal Crowns

These are constructed from alloy metals such as gold, nickel, chromium or palladium. The durable material makes these crowns the longest lasting option and strong enough to withstand teeth grinding and high pressure. Because the metal cannot be matched to the natural color of teeth, they are most commonly used on molars where they are not as conspicuous.

Resin Crowns

These crowns are generally not as expensive as other options and are less durable than the metal crowns. This is the material most commonly used in temporary crowns because they tend to wear down faster or fracture more easily.

Porcelain-Fused-To-Metal Crowns

These hybrid crowns have a strong metal base with a porcelain layer on top. They are popular due to the ability to look more natural, but the porcelain can still chip if too much pressure is applied. These crowns are often used on front teeth or for dental bridges.

All-Porcelain or All-Ceramic Crowns

These crowns can be matched to your teeth easily so they blend in perfectly with your smile and are incredibly durable when compared to other crowns. Your dentist will be able to assess whether this option is ideal for you.

If your dentist recommends a dental crown, it’s always best to follow through as quickly as possible to prevent any further damage to the tooth. Leaving the tooth unprotected can lead to tooth decay, worsened cracks or chips, infections and abscesses. If you think you may need a crown, our professionals at Reno’s Absolute Dental are happy to give you a consultation on the best treatment for you.

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