Dental Crown Procedure

Dental Crown Procedure

Dental crowns are an excellent way to restore teeth that have been damaged or are discolored. Many of them will match the natural color of your teeth and can help give you a beautiful white smile. The dental crown procedure can restore your tooth and keep it looking good for many years.

The Uses of Dental Crowns

A dental crown, also called a dental cap, is a replacement part for the visible portion of the tooth. Many problems can occur that will render a tooth looking less than attractive. When completely restored with a crown, it not only restores the appearance but also the functionality of the tooth. 

Replacing the crown on a tooth is one way to save and preserve it. Otherwise, there may be no option but to extract it. Some of the reasons that a dental crown is used include:

  • A filling is inadequate – If a filling is going to be quite large, there may not be enough tooth left to support it. The remaining tooth will be weak and it could easily fracture. 
  • A cracked tooth – When a tooth has been cracked but the crack does not go into the root, it can be repaired with a crown. Normally, this is done when a cracked tooth causes pain or when there is pain when biting on it. A large crack, which can easily become infected, will also need to be replaced. 
  • A root canal – A root canal is used to deaden the nerve in the tooth. This is often performed after it has become infected. To deaden the nerve, the dentist must drill into the top of the tooth, where there is decay, and will often restore it with a new crown when complete. 
  • A broken tooth – When a tooth has been broken, a crown will be used to restore its function and appearance. Sometimes, this may also be done if the break has occurred below the gum line.
  • Excessive wear – Teeth can become short due to problems such as teeth grinding or because of acid reflux or GERD. A dental crown can restore the size of the teeth and appearance. 
  • Undesirable appearance – A misshapen or discolored tooth can be replaced with a crown.
  • Complete a dental implant – When a dental implant is used to replace a missing tooth, a crown will be placed on it to make it functional.
  • A dental bridge – Crowns are used to hold a bridge in place. A bridge can consist of one or more teeth and may rest on prepared teeth or dental implants.

Types of Crowns

There are many choices when you want to select a dental crown. Metal-based crowns, such as those made of gold or platinum, are very durable but obvious. 

There are also many types of dental crowns that are white or tooth-colored. Some of them will look more natural than other types and can enhance your smile. The various types of crowns include:

  • Metal crowns – This type of crown is apt to last the longest and is not likely to ever chip or fracture. They are made of alloys of gold or platinum or may be made of base metals such as nickel-chromium or cobalt-chromium. 
  • Stainless steel – These crowns are often used to cover damaged primary teeth. When the tooth falls out, the crown will fall out with it, making room for the permanent tooth. 
  • All-ceramic or all-porcelain – When you want the most natural-looking crowns, this type will look the most natural. They are often used for front teeth, but may also be used for back teeth. They can chip or crack, so they are not recommended if you grind your teeth – unless you wear a teeth guard while you sleep.
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal – The metal base on these crowns makes them stronger than the all-ceramic ones. They also look very natural. A potential problem with this type is that if your gums recede, the metal base will appear as a thin dark line at your gum line. 
  • Pressed ceramic – Starting a hard inner core, the cores are capped with ceramic crowns. This gives them a natural look and they are longer lasting than an all-ceramic crown. 
  • All-resin – This type of crown is often used as a temporary, but it can also be used as a permanent crown. It is considerably less expensive, but it will only last 5-7 years.
  • Zirconium – This is the strongest type of dental crown made. It is about five times stronger than ceramic crowns. It is just about indestructible. It is biocompatible and natural-looking.

The Procedure

Getting a dental crown will normally require two visits to the dentist’s office. The first one is preparatory and the second is when you get the crown put on.

During the first visit, the dentist may take x-rays to ensure that the tooth root is sound. The tooth roots will be looked at as well as the bone around them to ensure that there is no damage. If a problem is detected, a root canal may be necessary first. 

After being given local anesthesia, the dentist will shape the tooth so that it is ready to receive the crown. Some types of crowns require more tooth enamel to be removed than other types. In some cases, a lack of material will require that some filling material be added to build it up to a sufficient size and shape before placing the crown. 

An impression will then be taken of the newly shaped tooth and surrounding teeth. Most often, the dentist will use a paste or a putty to make the mold. The mold will be sent to a lab to make the crown. In the meantime, the dentist will provide you with a temporary crown made of acrylic. 

At the second visit, which will be about two weeks later, the temporary crown will be removed. The dentist will check the fit of the new crown. If any adjustments are needed, the dentist will make them and recheck the fit. When the fit is good, the crown will be permanently cemented in place.

Same-Day Crowns

Another way to get dental crowns is to get a same-day crown. These crowns are very durable and are made in the dentist’s office. 

Once the tooth is prepared by removing some of the enamel, instead of using a mold, the dentist will use a digital scanner to get the details for the new crown. This scan is then fed to a computer where the dentist can view it in 3-D. The dentist may make some adjustments to complete the design of the new tooth. You will choose the color and shape. 

When ready, the dentist will send the 3-D CAD/CAM design to a milling machine in the office. It will immediately begin making the crown and will complete it in about 15 minutes. After checking the fit, the dentist will cement it in place. The whole procedure should take about an hour. 

This type of crown is called a CEREC crown. They are 100 percent porcelain and made from a solid block. The result is a tooth-colored ceramic crown. An advantage of this type of crown is that less tooth material needs to be removed.

Another material that a crown can be made of on the same day in a milling machine is zirconia. It is also made from a solid block. It is naturally white and some types may have some translucence. It is ideal for back teeth where they will be exposed to a lot of pressure.

The Longevity of Crowns

Some crown material will last longer than other materials. It will also depend partially on how well you care for your teeth. Although crown material will not corrode, the tooth under it still can and decay can still destroy the tooth root. 

On average, a porcelain crown can be expected to last 10 to 15 years. A metal crown that is made of gold or other metal can be expected to last for at least 20 years, but it could last a lifetime. A dental crown made of zirconia is considered one of the hardest materials used in dentistry. It can endure extreme pressure, making it the ideal material for back teeth. They are also more resistant to staining than other materials. 

If you have damaged teeth and need a dental crown procedure, Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist, can help you. He provides dental crowns and same-day crowns in his Champion Dental office in Farmers Branch, TX. Most dental insurance plans are accepted. To set up a consultation or to get more information about the tooth crown procedure, you can contact his office at (214) 747-0763.

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