A DENTAL CROWN (DENTAL CAP) IS A TOOTH-SHAPED RESTORATION THAT FITS OVER THE DAMAGED TOOTH OR REPLACES A MISSING TOOTH. Dental crowns are composed of durable materials that restore strength, shape, and often color to low or non-functioning teeth, allowing you to chew and smile again in confidence. While direct restorations and porcelain veneers can repair most small cracks, stains, and tooth decay, teeth that are more severely damaged require the additional support of a dental crown. Dental crowns also offer protection from further tooth damage by fully covering the existing tooth and sealing it off from bacteria in the saliva.
Types of Dental Crowns
Dental crowns can be made from a variety of durable materials, which are often chosen based on the tooth’s location in the mouth. All-ceramic crowns are especially favored because they are stain resistant, durable, and matched to your tooth color. Each dental crown is individually shaped to blend in as a natural part of your smile. The most prominent types of dental crowns include the following:
All-Ceramic Dental Crowns
The translucent quality of the all-ceramic dental crown makes it the most natural-looking and esthetically pleasing choice. Because all-ceramic crowns are metal-free, they are thinner and require less tooth reduction, making them ideal for tighter spaces in the mouth. All-ceramic dental crowns have traditionally been used primarily for front teeth because of their esthetic quality and lack of metal support. However, developments in the durability of ceramic materials have now made all-ceramic dental crowns an excellent solution for several areas of the mouth. Many dentists do not recommend all-ceramic dental crowns for patients who regularly clench their teeth, as the porcelain material can more easily wear down opposing teeth.
Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Dental Crowns
Next to all-ceramic dental crowns, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns offer the next most esthetically pleasing choice. The dental crown’s metal interior provides important support and durability for the tooth. However, it detracts somewhat from the translucent quality of the tooth, and the metal rim may be exposed if gums recede. As with the all-ceramic dental crowns, the porcelain exterior can create more wear to opposing teeth.
As ceramic materials have increased in durability, gold dental crowns have decreased in popularity since they lack the esthetic appeal of all-ceramic or porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. However, for patients who habitually grind or clench their teeth, dental crowns made of gold can offer a more long-lasting solution for less-visible back molars.
Dental Crown Procedure
Tooth Preparation: Your cosmetic dentist will carefully reduce the size of your existing tooth in preparation for the added thickness of the dental crown. Impressions of your mouth will then be sent to a dental lab so they can custom-mold a dental crown to fit the shape and color of your surrounding teeth.
Temporary Dental Crown: You will be given a temporary dental crown to wear for a couple of weeks so that you can talk and eat normally until your permanent dental crown is made.
Permanent Dental Crown: At your second appointment, your permanent dental crown will be securely fastened over your original tooth, and checked for correct color, shape, and size.
Are Dental Crowns Right for Me?
If you need to restore a missing or damaged tooth, it is best to visit a qualified general or cosmetic dentist to discuss your options. Most dentists use dental crowns as part of the following cosmetic dental treatments:
- Tooth Restoration
Dental crowns can cover and protect teeth that are badly broken, decayed, severely discolored, or damaged. Many dentists suggest dental crowns for patients who cannot qualify for porcelain veneers due to insufficient tooth support, tooth grinding, or other reasons.
- Dental ImplantA dental implant is one of the most highly effective tooth replacement procedures available. A metal rod is positioned in the jaw bone to function like a tooth root. This implant anchors a dental crown attached to the top, which provides a natural look to your smile and important chewing support.
- Dental Bridge or Partial Dentures
Some dentists suggest a dental bridge (or partial dentures) as a solution for one or more missing teeth. In most cases, dental crowns provide support on the two teeth adjacent to the tooth replacement.
- Root Canal
A root canal procedure can salvage a severely decayed tooth and prevent complete tooth replacement. After a root canal procedure, the original tooth is usually brittle. The additional strength of a dental crown can help preserve the life and function of the tooth.
Living With and Caring for a Dental Crown
Dental crowns are composed of durable materials that are made to last for several years. However, the durability of your tooth restoration can be greatly increased by daily oral hygiene practices (i.e. daily brushing and flossing) and regular dental visits. Chewing hard foods or grinding your teeth can quickly damage your dental crown, and should be avoided. If you struggle with teeth grinding or clenching, ask your dentist about night-time mouth guards.
Contact a Crown Council Dentist
To learn more about dental crowns or other general and cosmetic dental procedures that can give your smile a lift, search for and contact a Crown Council member dentist in your area.