A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cover placed over a tooth that is badly damaged or decayed. Many people call it a cap. Dr. Marneni a Dallas based famile and cosmetic dentist says, “ a cap is a hollow, artificial tooth used to cover a damaged or decayed tooth. The crown restores the tooth and protects it from further damage. Crowns can also be used to cover a discolored or misshapen tooth. A tooth that has been fixed with a crown looks and works very much like a natural tooth
Dr. Marneni says, “crowns may be placed for several reasons. Usually the tooth has been broken or severely damaged by decay. As a result, a filling can’t replace enough of the tooth or make the tooth strong enough. A crown may hold together parts of a cracked tooth. It also can be used to hold a bridge in place”. Dr. Marneni also says “crowns can be used to improve appearance as well, they may be placed to cover misshapen or badly discolored teeth”.
According to Dr. Marneni, these are the following situations where a dental crown may be needed.
- To protect a weak tooth from breaking or to hold together parts of a cracked tooth
- To restore an already broken tooth or a tooth that has been severely worn down
- To cover and support a tooth with a large filling when there isn’t a lot of tooth left
- To hold a dental bridge in place
- To cover misshapened or severely discolored teeth
- To cover a dental implant
- To make a cosmetic modification
According to Dr. Marneni, crowns that are recommended are usually designed from ceramic, porcelain and also various material combinations which are basically fused between porcelain casing and various metals. Dr. Marneni also says permanent crowns are usually made of porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM), metal, resin, or a complete ceramic. In general, crowns can vary based on the used type of material.
Dr. Marneni says if you need to have a tooth crowned, your dentist will do it.
- Dental hygienist gives you a local anesthetic.
- To make room for the crown your dentist files down the tooth that needs to be restored.
- An impression of the filed-down tooth and nearby teeth is taken. This impression is used to custom make your final crown. The crown is built using restorative material (material used for fillings) based on the impression. The final crown will be the right shape for your mouth.
- Until your final crown is ready your dentist places a temporary crown over the tooth that needs to be restored. The temporary crown is made from an impression of your tooth before it was filed down. It protects your tooth until the final crown is ready. Dr. Marneni also says a temporary crown may not have the same shape and color as a final crown.
- On your next visit to your dentist takes off the temporary crown and puts on the final one. Your dentist checks to make sure the crown is the right fit, shape, color and bite. If it is, your dentist cements the crown into place.
These are the steps that dentists most often follow in making a crown, but your tooth may need special care. You may need orthodontic treatment, gum treatment or root canal treatment. It may take more than 2 visits to your dentist or your visits may last longer.
According to Dr. Marneni you shouldn’t feel any discomfort or sensitivity after a crown is placed. However, if your tooth has not had a root canal it will still contain the nerve. You may therefore have some temporary sensitivity to cold. Dr. Marneni also says if you notice pain or sensitivity when you bite down, contact your dentist.
A crowned tooth is protected from decay, except for the gum line. A high-fluoride gel is given to you to use every night if you have a high risk of developing cavities. Dr. Marneni also says a crown does not protect against gum disease. You should continue to brush twice a day and floss daily.
Dr. Marneni says that the crowns are strong and generally last for about 10 years or longer if you take good care of them. Brush and floss your crown, just like you clean your natural teeth. Crowns may not be as strong as your natural teeth. So like your natural teeth, remember not to bite down on hard objects or use your teeth to open or cut things.