What is a crown?
A dental crown, also called a dental cap, is a fabricated prosthesis that is placed over an existing tooth to provide protection, function and esthetics.
Why do I need a crown?
- Protection—teeth that are cracked or broken, teeth that have large fillings or decay, teeth that have had root canals may all need a crown to prevent further damage.
- Function—severely worn teeth, misaligned teeth or teeth used to anchor a bridge may need crowns to allow your teeth to fit together properly and hence function better.
- Esthetics—teeth that are misshapen or severely discolored may also benefit from crown.
Types of crowns
- Full Metal—this type of crown is usually the most cost effective and longest lasting. Gold is the most commonly used metal which is very gentle on the opposing teeth. If esthetics are a concern, this is not the crown to choose.
- Porcelain fused to metal—this type of porcelain crown combines the strength of metal core with the esthetics of porcelain overlay. By adding the porcelain to the metal it allows color matching of the surrounding teeth.
- Full Porcelain—this type of porcelain crown is the most esthetic but may be the most costly as well. Because there is no metal used it can reflect light better and produce a more lifelike result. This type of crown may not be suitable for people who grind their teeth heavily.
How are crowns placed?
- 1st visit—the dentist will usually administer a local anesthetic (Novocain) and shape the existing tooth that is to support the crown. A mold (impression) is made of the prepared tooth as well as the adjacent and opposing teeth. This ensures that the crown will fit to the other teeth properly. A temporary crown will be placed over the prepared tooth until the permanent one is ready.
- 2nd visit—the dentist may administer local anesthetic. The dentist removes the temporary crown and cleans the tooth. The fit and color are checked and an x-ray may be taken to ensure the fit between the teeth and below the gum is correct. The crown is then cemented with durable, long-lasting cement. The new crown may feel strange at first or the tooth may feel slightly sensitive. These feelings should subside within a week the mouth adapts to the new crown.
Precautions for Temporary Crowns
Temporary dental crowns are made of acrylic or a similar material. They are placed to protect the prepared tooth and prevent the bite from changing while waiting for the permanent crown. Here are some guidelines to help keep your temporary crown in place:
- Always avoid sticky or hard foods with temporary crowns and try to avoid chewing on the side with the temporary crown.
- Brush and keep the tooth clean with floss. Try to pull the floss out the side of the tooth to prevent dislodging the crown.
Some people may experience tooth sensitivity, especially to temperature. Be sure to call your dentist should the temporary crown come off.
How long does a crown last?
The life expectancy of a crown is 5-15 years depending on several factors. Crowns may need to be replaced for a number of reasons such as chipping the crown, wear on the crown or decay around the crown. Remember to care for the crown the way you’d care for the rest of the teeth. Crowned teeth are still prone to gum disease and decay and should be brushed and flossed daily.
If you have had a root canal, broken or cracked tooth or a large filling that needs replacing, you might need a dental crown. Please call us immediately at 203-377-9300 to schedule an appointment.