We all want a great, healthy smile. However, often when it comes to achieving this goal, the need for some restoration comes into play. When damage such as a cracked or decayed tooth occurs, it can seriously impact functionality and your overall oral health. Dental crowns, also referred to as “caps,” are able to preserve and support your smile by encasing a tooth in custom material. Your dentist may decide to use this form of treatment in order to aid in a variety of dental situations.
When Are They Needed?
A crown can serve several different purposes. Covering the visible portion of the tooth above the gumline, it can shield and support weak or damaged teeth. It can also serve as a restorative agent for worn down teeth by building up its shape, size, and appearance. Other possible uses may involve:
- Covering a dental implant.
- Covering a tooth that’s misshaped.
- Holding a bridge in place.
- Covering a tooth that’s extremely discolored.
- Restoration after a root canal treatment.
- Supporting a tooth that has a large filling but there’s not a lot tooth remaining.
What Are They Made Of?
If you’ve been told that you’re in need of a dental crown, you’ll need to decide which material to choose. Options for crown materials can include using all metal, all ceramic, or porcelain-fused-to-metal. Each option offers their own set of distinct features.
- Metals: These types of crowns are commonly formed using alloys that consist of of metals like gold, nickel, or chromium. They rarely break due to their great strength and they tend to be long-lasting. Metal crowns also typically require less tooth to be removed before placement. Many choose this option for back molars, as the material provides strength for chewing and biting. However, the metallic appearance is not always desired for more visible teeth.
- Ceramic: Created from natural-looking materials such as porcelain, these crowns can be a terrific option for front teeth. Aesthetically they can offer a big advantage, but they aren’t as strong or as durable when compared to the other options like metal and porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns.
- Porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM): This option is a combination of the other two types of dental crowns. Made using an outer structure of porcelain and an inner cap of metal, these crowns can provide excellent strength, great fit, and a natural-looking tooth color. However, they do have possible disadvantages such as the risk that the porcelain will break, potential wear on opposite teeth, and the chance that the metal may show at the base of the crown and appear as a dark line.
What’s Involved in Dental Crown Procedure?
In general, getting a dental crown requires two dental visits. You will first need to have the tooth in question examined. Next, the tooth will be numbed using an anesthetic, and then it will be filed down to make room for the crown. However, if tooth decay or damage has left little tooth to work with, a filling material will be used to build up the tooth in order to support the crown.
Once the tooth has been prepared, impressions will need to be made of the tooth and nearby teeth. These impressions will be sent off to a dental laboratory. Your dentist may also use color guide to best match the future crown to the rest of your teeth, if a non-metal crown material was selected.
The process of making the permanent crown can take several weeks, so in the meantime you will need to wear a temporary one in order to protect the tooth. When the final crown is ready, you’ll return to the dentist to have the temporary cap removed and the permanent crown placed and secured with dental cement.
In some cases, same-day crowns may be available. With computer technology called CAD/CAM, a 3-D image of the tooth is created and then the permanent crown is made and carved from a block of ceramic. This process requires no temporary crown or return visit, but it does depend on equipment availability, number of restorations needed, and the desired material choice.
How to Take Care of your Dental Crowns
On average, dental crowns can last anywhere from 5 to 10 years or much longer. Although crowns don’t require special care, they do need proper oral hygiene like daily brushing and flossing to prevent decay and gum disease. Furthermore, biting down hard or chewing on hard things like ice should be avoided. These practices can damage the crown and call for the need for replacement.
Strengthen Your Smile
Dental crowns can be an effective method of strengthening your smile and restoring it to glory. However, other treatments or procedures may be better suited to get that smile back on track. By consulting with an experienced dentist, you can discover what will work best for you. Contact the Los Angeles office of Samaritan Dental Arts today and we’ll address any possible questions or concerns. We’ll help you take the necessary steps to get the confident smile you long for.
A dental crown may be used to protect cracked teeth, restore functionality of decayed teeth or replace a pre-existing crown. The purpose of a dental crown is to encase a needy tooth with a custom-designed material. Dentists today have a variety of conservative treatment options through which to restore teeth. If possible, these options should be explored and discussed before selecting the full coverage crown.