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What is a dental crown and why
is it needed?
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped "cap"
that is placed over a tooth, covering the tooth to restore its shape
and size, strength, and/or to improve its appearance. The crowns, when
cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth
that lies at and above the gum line.
A dental crown may be needed:
- To protect a weak tooth (for
instance, from decay) from breaking or to hold together parts of a cracked
- To restore a broken or worn-down
- To cover and support a tooth
with a large filling when there isn't a lot of tooth left
- To give esthetics to a misshaped
or discolored teeth
- To hold a dental bridge in
- To cover a dental implant
types of materials are available for crowns?
Permanent crowns can be made from all
metal, porcelain-fused-to-metal, all resin, or all ceramic.
used in crowns include gold alloy, other alloys (for example, palladium)
or a base-metal alloy (for example, nickel or chromium). Compared with
other crown types, less tooth structure needs to be removed with metal
crowns. Tooth wear to the opposing teeth is kept to a minimum. Metal
crowns withstand biting and chewing forces well. They last the longest
in terms of wear down and they rarely chip or break. The main drawback
is the metallic color. Metal crowns are a good choice for out-of-sight
dental crowns can be color matched to your adjacent teeth (unlike the
metallic crowns). However, more wearing to the opposing teeth occurs
with this crown type compared with metal or resin crowns. The crown's
porcelain portion can also chip or break off. Next to all-ceramic crowns,
porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns look most like normal teeth. However,
sometimes the metal underlying the crown's porcelain can show through
as a dark line, especially at the gum line and even more so if your
gums recede. These crowns can be a good choice for front or back teeth.
- All-resin dental crowns
are less expensive than other crown types. However, they wear down over
time and are more prone to fractures than porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns.
or all-porcelain dental crowns provide the best natural color
match than any other crown type and may be more suitable for people
with metal allergies. However, they are not as strong as porcelain-fused-to-metal
crowns and they wear down the opposing teeth a little more than metal
or resin crowns. All-ceramic crowns are a good choice for front teeth.
Details of the procedure
steps are involved in crowning a tooth?
Crowning a tooth usually requires two
visits in the first visit the dentist examines and prepares the
tooth, and in the second visit he places the permanent crown.
Examining and preparing the tooth
Your dentist may take a few x-rays to
check the roots of the tooth receiving the crown and the surrounding
bone. If the tooth has extensive decay or if there is a risk of infection
or injury to the tooths pulp, a root canal treatment may first be
Your dentist will first anesthetize your
tooth and the gum tissue around the tooth. Next, he will file down the
tooth receiving the crown along the chewing surface and sides to make
room for the crown. The amount removed depends on the type of crown
used (for instance, all-metal crowns are thinner, requiring less tooth
structure removal than all-porcelain or porcelain-fused-to-metal ones).
On the other hand, if a large area of the tooth is missing (due to decay
or damage), your dentist will use filling material to "build up"
the tooth enough to support the crown.
After reshaping the tooth, your dentist
will make an impression of the tooth to receive the crown. Impressions
of the teeth above and below the tooth to receive the dental crown will
also be made to make sure that the crown will not affect your bite.
The impressions are sent to a dental
laboratory where the crown will be manufactured. The crown is usually
returned to your dentist's office in 2 to 3 weeks. If your crown is
made of porcelain, your dentist will also select the shade that most
closely matches the color of the neighboring teeth. During this first
office visit your dentist will make a temporary crown to cover and protect
the prepared tooth while the crown is being made. Temporary crowns usually
are made of acrylic and are held in place using a temporary cement.
Receiving the permanent dental crown
At your second visit, your dentist will
remove your temporary crown and check the fit and color of the permanent
crown. If everything is acceptable, a local anesthetic will be used
to numb the tooth and the new crown is permanently cemented in place.
should I watch out for after I have received a dental
Discomfort or sensitivity: You
will likely experience some sensitivity immediately after the procedure
as the anesthesia begins to wear off. If the crowned tooth has a nerve
in it, you may experience some heat and cold sensitivity. You may be
recommended to brush your teeth with toothpaste designed for sensitive
teeth. If you have pain or sensitivity when you bite down it may usually
mean that the crown is too high on the tooth. This problem can be easily
fixed by your dentist.
All-porcelain crowns can sometimes chip. A small chip can be repaired
using a composite resin with the crown remaining in your mouth. For
extensive chipping the crown may need to be replaced.
In some cases the cement under the crown washes out causing loosening
of the crown, which results in bacterial activity in the area and causes
decay to the remaining tooth. You must contact your dentist if your
crown feels loose.
Crown falls off: Crowns may sometimes
fall off due to an improper fit or a lack of cement. You should contact
your dentist immediately in such a case. Your dentist may be able to
re-cement your crown in place or replace it with a new crown.
Allergic reaction: In very rare
cases, you can have an allergic reaction to the metals or porcelain
used in making crowns.
Dark line on crowned tooth next to
the gum line: Sometimes the metal of your crown may show
through in the form of a dark line next to the gum line of your crowned
tooth. It is normal, particularly if you have a porcelain-fused-to-metal
crowned tooth require any special care?
The tooth underlying the crowned tooth
needs to be protected from decay or gum disease. You should continue
to follow good oral hygiene practices, including brushing your teeth
at least twice a day and flossing once a day especially around the
crown area where the gum meets the tooth.
long do dental crowns last?
Dental crowns last between 5 and 15 years
on an average. The life span of a crown depends on the amount of "wear
and tear" the crown is exposed to, how well you follow good oral
hygiene practices, and your personal mouth-related habits (you should
avoid such habits as grinding or clenching your teeth, chewing ice,
biting your fingernails and using your teeth to open packaging).
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