Many people are familiar with the term “crown” as it applies to dental work. Some people call it a “cap”. Both words refer to the same thing. A lot of people know the word but do not really understand what a crown is. This blog will explain what a crown is, why it is necessary, and how it is made.
What is a Crown?
Our dentists can use the word crown in two different ways. Sometimes we forget that our patients may not know this and understand the difference. Here is a simple explanation:
This term describes the visible or exposed portion of the tooth. Each tooth has a crown and one or more roots. The crown is the portion of the tooth that you see and use. The root is the anchor or foundation of the crown.
Crown (dental restoration)
This type of crown is a dental treatment used to restore a tooth back to full shape and function. A crown covers the entire anatomical crown of a tooth, usually extending to, or just under, the gums.
Why is a Dental Crown Necessary?
The first step in determining the necessity of a crown is the proper diagnosis of the tooth. Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren are top notch in diagnosing dental problems. They both have extensive education beyond dental school, and they use the latest dental technology available.
Because a crown’s purpose is to rebuild or restore a tooth back to full shape or function, a crown is necessary when a crown has lost some of its shape or function. Here are some examples of dental problems that typically require a crown to fix:
- Very large cavities that are too big for a filling
- A broken tooth
- A tooth crack extending past the enamel into the tooth
- Old dental work that covers more than half of the tooth and is failing
- A tooth that has had a root canal
- A tooth that will support a removable partial denture and needs major changes in shape in order to do so
- A severely worn down tooth (or teeth)
Multiple crowns are necessary when your dentist needs to rebuild your entire bite. This often happens in patients who have had decades of wear and damage on their teeth.
Multiple crowns are also necessary when you want big cosmetic changes. Some teeth are not strong enough to support porcelain veneers. Crowns are able to make many of the same cosmetic changes as veneers are!
What Does the Crown Process Involve?
On the Patient’s End
A patient in need of a dental crown will have two appointments with the dentist. The first visit is the longer and involves preparation of the tooth for the crown. At this visit, the dentist removes any cavities, old dental work or cracks in the tooth and builds up a solid core to support the crown. Enamel is removed to make room for the thickness of the new crown, which replaces the enamel.
The dentist takes either a mold or a 3D digital scan of the prepared tooth to send to the lab. Then we make a temporary crown to cover the tooth while the lab technician makes your final crown.
Your second visit is shorter and less invasive. We remove the temporary crown and fit the final crown to your tooth. Typically, we will double-check the fit with an x-ray to make sure the crown fits perfectly and seals out any contamination. Once you and your dentist both love the look and fit of the crown, she will cement it to your tooth using a permanent dental cement.
On the Dentist and Dental Lab Technician’s End
While you are wearing the temporary crown for about three weeks, the dental lab technician is using an exact replica of your prepared tooth to make your final crown. This all takes place according to your dentist’s detailed specifications, your personal preferences, and the lab technician’s expert knowledge about dental crowns.
An important thing to know about Designer Smiles: we send our crowns to a dental lab technician with the highest level of training and education, who is right here in the USA. Unlike many other dental offices who send dental lab work overseas to get a lower price, we are committed to keeping our business here in the states. Not only do we wish to keep our business domestic; we also believe that our patients deserve the very best when it comes to dental restorations.
What Kind of Crown Will I Get?
A good one!
There are several different types of dental materials used to make crowns today. Each material has different pros and cons, and there is not one single material that is great for every tooth. Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren will discuss your options for a particular tooth and help you select which option is best for you. A short summary of the available types of crowns is as follows:
Gold was the first material used to make dental crowns, and we still use it today. It has the advantage of being strong, even in very thin increments, so it does not require as much removal of enamel. Gold has an obvious cosmetic disadvantage, and this is why we do less gold crowns than the other types.
A very commonly used crown, this type uses a metal core to support an overlay of porcelain. These are very strong and useful for molars that will sustain a lot of chewing force. The metal core creates a cosmetic disadvantage, and some people notice a dark grey line at the gums with these types of crowns.
Zirconia is an interesting material because it is technically a metal, but it looks like porcelain! Zirconia is very strong and very hard. It is cosmetically superior to both PFM and gold crowns. One disadvantage to zirconia is that its hardness can cause damage to the tooth it bites against.
This crown is completely ceramic (glass-like) and gives the best cosmetic appearance of any crown material. The all-porcelain material is available in various levels of translucency (see-through) to most closely mimic a real tooth. The disadvantage to all-porcelain crowns is that they are not quite as strong and are susceptible to breaking.
Do You Need a Crown?
Call our office today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren. They can answer all of your questions, correctly diagnose your dental problem, and help you choose which type of crown will meet your cosmetic and functional needs.