The Process of Making a Dental Crown

July 23, 2019

The Process of Making a Dental Crown

Get the full scoop on our onsite high-tech digital process

As much as we try to take care of our teeth, sometimes things happen. A tooth can become damaged, or an old filling can fail, sometimes requiring root canal therapy. In these kinds of situations, a crown may be your best option for a restoration that feels and looks natural, and maintains your oral health. Most people have at least some understanding of what a crown is, but don’t know much about the sophisticated process behind making one. 

So what should you expect, and what goes on behind the scenes, when we make a custom crown just for you in our onsite lab? Let’s take a look:

Step 1: Assessing the situation, and finding the right solution.
Any time you visit our clinic, the first step is always to do a thorough examination. Your dentist will take a close look and discuss your concerns, taking X-rays and photos as necessary, to make sure he or she knows exactly what is going on in your mouth. They will talk to you about the issue and discuss your options for treatment, including their recommendations as well as what may happen without treatment.

Step 2: Getting the full picture with an intraoral scan.
Following a thorough diagnosis, the next step will be to digitally scan your teeth and bite as they are right now with our intraoral scanner, which captures a 3-dimensional picture of your mouth. The dentist will pass the small wand-like portion of the scanner around the affected area inside your mouth, and the scanner will relay this information back to our software, which quickly renders an accurate 3-D image.  

The intraoral scanner not only replaces messy and uncomfortable analog impressions, but takes fewer steps and creates a fuller, more accurate picture for your dentist and our lab technicians of your exact situation.

Step 3: Preparing the tooth.
Once we’ve captured the existing situation, we’ll get started in fixing it! The first step toward this is to prepare the tooth that will be receiving the crown. Exactly what needs to happen depends on the issue that caused you to need a crown in the first place – for example, an old filling may need to be removed and a white material added in its place. Many people assume that root canal therapy is always needed when receiving a crown, but that’s not necessarily the case! You can read more about that here

Whatever is required, in this step your dentist is getting the tooth ready to receive the crown by removing the area that was scanned in the previous step so that a crown that fits perfectly and looks natural can be made and placed.

Step 4: Rescanning the prepared tooth.
Now that your tooth is prepared, your dentist will once again use the intraoral scanner to scan the affected area. Now the lab technicians will have two 3-dimensional pictures of your teeth and your bite – one before anything was changed, and one after your dentist prepared the area for a dental crown. These two pictures will be compared and used when the lab techs design your crown. The technicians will design your crown for the prepared tooth using the original tooth and bite registration as a guide, so that the restoration matches the original contours of your natural tooth and corrects any issues as needed. This means you will get the most comfortable fit and most natural look possible!

Step 5: Collaboration between your dentist and our onsite lab to create the perfect custom design for you.
All of the scans will be sent to our onsite lab via the cloud, and once that happens the lab technicians will be ready to get started on your restoration.

Using Computer Assisted Design (CAD), our experienced technicians will design your dental crown. Our digital workflow means that at any point during the design process, the lab tech can text or email images to your dentist, asking questions or getting feedback on the design. This process continues until the whole team is confident that the design of the restoration is perfect for you.

Step 6: 3D printing models and milling the dental crown.
Once the design has been approved, it’s officially time to make your crown real! Our onsite lab will print models of your jaw on our 3D printer, and mill the final crown on our robotic milling equipment. Thanks to digital dentistry, the fit of the milled crown is extremely accurate. Where a crown used to be designed and made by human hands, it is now designed on a computer and milled by very sophisticated equipment for an extremely variable-controlled process – adjustments can be made down to 2 or 3 decimal points of a single millimetre!

Step 7: Placing the dental crown.
Once the crown is milled and has been characterized for a natural look, your dentist fits the crown over your prepared tooth and cements it in place. Most people don’t even require freezing for this process; the fitting and cementing is generally quite quick and painless, since our digital workflow creates such an accurate fit.

And there you have it! Where you used to have a problem, you now have a comfortable, natural restoration that will help to ensure that your jaw and your other teeth stay healthy, and that your smile is as great as it ever was. If you have an issue that keeps you from smiling your biggest smile, come see us for a consultation to find out how we can help!


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