Considering a dental crown to restore a damaged tooth? Find out how crowns can help, what materials they are made from, and what to expect during the procedure.
Many adults require tooth restoration at some point during their lives. Dental crowns are one of the most common options recommended by dentists to restore a tooth that can no longer retain a filling. Crowns are used to help to preserve damaged teeth, maintain facial structure, and help you chew better, and can be made to look as natural as your existing teeth.
If you have been considering how to repair one or more damaged teeth, this article covers all the details you need to know before consulting with your dentist: what are crowns, the different types available, and an overview of the procedure.
What are dental crowns?
Dental crowns are a tooth restoration technique that can reinforce or repair the structure of decayed or damaged teeth. Crowns can also be used to replace missing teeth as part of a dental implant restoration or a dental bridge.
While the most common application of crowns is to restore a damaged tooth, they may also be used to cover discoloured teeth.
Crowns are custom-made to fit over the top of your existing tooth and fit seamlessly into your bite. A crown can help hold together a fractured tooth or reinforce one that has decayed significantly. When used to restore dental implants, a crown serves as a prosthetic tooth and attaches to an implanted artificial root.
Different types of crowns
Crowns may be made from several different materials. Each of them is functional, but one particular material may be preferable over another, depending on your budget, individual needs, and the location of the damaged tooth in your mouth.
Metal crowns often appear to be made of gold, but actually consist of a mixture (alloy) of gold and other metals. While these crowns are very strong, they also stand out against your natural teeth. For this reason, metal crowns are often used for restoring molars or teeth that are not easily visible. Because of their strength, metal crowns tend to be long-lasting, which makes them an excellent option for molars.
Ceramic construction is the most commonly selected material for crowns. Not only are crowns made from all-ceramics durable, but they can be made to look nearly indistinguishable from your natural teeth. At Tuxedo Dental Group, we have an on-site ceramist who works together with your dentist to closely match the natural shade of your teeth, to integrate your crown fully into your smile. Our fully digital workflow allows us to use robotic mills and 3D printers to fabricate lifelike ceramic crowns on-site.
Porcelain fused to metal
Some crowns are made from porcelain fused to metal (PFM). PFM crowns are quite strong and aesthetically pleasing. However, the metal frame upon which they are constructed may show slightly along the gumline. With this in mind, PFM crowns are not generally ideal for front teeth—but because the majority of the crown is porcelain, they offer a more natural appearance than metal crowns, even if only used on back teeth. At Tuxedo Dental Group, the PFM crown is starting to be replaced with digital crowns of a more advanced, ceramic-based technology.
Composite resin is a plastic material that can be matched to the color of your existing teeth. These materials are strong, but not strong enough as a definitive crown solution. In some cases, composite resin crowns can be fabricated with our robotic mills to restore teeth as a temporary measure. However, the future is bright for composite resin crowns, so we will keep watching out for new innovations!
When do you need a dental crown?
Dental crowns can be used to preserve teeth that are broken or have suffered from decay and can no longer hold a filling in place. If your tooth has sufficient remaining structure, a crown can help restore its functionality and prevent further damage.
Crowns are commonly used for patients who have undergone root canals or are missing significant portions of a tooth. Not only does a crown restore a tooth, but it helps maintain facial structure and ensures that patients can chew effectively.
When is it not safe to get a crown?
While crowns are a wonderful dental restoration option, they may not work for every situation. Sometimes, a tooth may be too damaged or decayed to support a crown. In these cases, a dental implant may be a better option. Your dentist will be able to assess your unique situation and recommend the best restoration option for you.
What is involved in the process?
Having a crown fabricated typically requires at least three main steps. Typically, the process goes as follows:
Step 1: Assessing the tooth
Your dentist will analyze the tooth that needs a crown, taking X-rays and scans to assess its health and the condition of your tooth and jawbone. If there are any signs of tooth decay or infection, these must be treated before the crown can be placed.
Step 2: Preparing the tooth
When your tooth is deemed healthy, your dentist can prepare it for the crown. Typically, the edges of your tooth will be filed down to ensure the crown fits seamlessly within your bite. In some cases, your dentist may have to build up your tooth to create enough surface area to mount the crown.
Once the tooth has been prepared, your dentist will take a three-dimensional digital scan of the tooth that will receive the crown. This scanning technology allows fabrication of the crown without the need for traditional putty type impressions. The scan will be used to create a crown that fits ideally on top of your tooth. Since each crown is custom-fabricated, the crown placement may occur on a separate visit, so your dentist may place a temporary crown over your tooth until the permanent crown is ready.
Tuxedo Dental Group has its own in-house tooth restoration laboratory right on the premises, with state-of-the-art technology, equipment, materials, and techniques to create the most functional, aesthetically pleasing crowns for each patient.
Step 3: Placing the crown
Now that your tooth has been prepared and your crown has been custom-made, the placement is simple: a special dental cement is applied to securely attach the newly created crown to your tooth. Or, in the case of an implant, the crown will be affixed to the abutment on top of the implanted root.
How do you take care of crowns?
Caring for crowns is very straightforward—simply brush and floss them as you would a natural tooth. While crowns themselves are not prone to tooth decay, it is essential to continue taking good care of the teeth that remain beneath them. If a crowned tooth becomes compromised, your crown could become dislodged, or the tooth below may decay. Always brush and floss your teeth twice daily.
If you would like to explore whether dental crowns are a good option for you, contact the experts at Tuxedo Dental Group for a consultation. Our experienced dentists will be happy to answer any questions you have about the procedure and help you determine your next steps.