You may have accidentally damaged a tooth, or simply want to improve the smile you present to the world. No matter the reason, dental crowns or tooth caps are a proven way to restore, protect, or enhance, the appearance of your teeth.
They function like a natural tooth when biting and chewing, but do need to be maintained and perhaps even replaced as time passes. Here’s a quick guide to the key facts about them…
The Types of Dental Crowns, and why they might be needed
These are custom crafted caps, placed over your tooth, as protection for weaker or worn down teeth, or as support for a bridge, perhaps to cover an implant, large filling, or otherwise unattractive teeth.
Such crowns may be metal, especially used for molars due to their colouring, and are long-lasting and cause little wear to other teeth.
Porcelain can also be fused to metal for colour-matching. It’s possible that porcelain crowns can break in time, and they will cause more wear to other teeth.
On their own, they are popular for front teeth, as are ceramic options. Resin crowns are more affordable, but do wear down and can suffer fractures.
Creating and Fitting your Dental Crown
On an initial visit, your dentist will carry out a detailed examination and then prepare the tooth to be crowned. This may involve x-rays to check the root and bone for suitability, and ensure the area is decay and infection free.
A local anaesthetic will be used as your dentist files and reshapes the tooth, ready to accept the crown. An impression will then be taken using putty or paste.
A temporary crown will be put into place for the two to three weeks needed for your crown to be constructed. At a second visit, the temporary crown will be replaced by a permanent one, the fit and colour carefully checked, and it will then be cemented into place.
Once your Crown is in Place
Dental crowns, or caps, usually last between five and 15 years depending on wear. Initially, it may feel slightly strange as you get used to it.
Patients should be careful not to accidentally chew their lip or cheek and should avoid hard or sticky foods for 24 hours after placement. As with many dental procedures, and very occasionally, allergic reactions or discomfort can occur.
Feelings of sensitivity to heat or cold often means the crown needs to be adjusted to be placed further down the tooth. Crowns can loosen if the cement washes out, chips can occur in porcelain crowns; small ones are often restored using a composite resin.
Should a crown ever fall off, contact your dentist, and you’ll quickly be told how to protect the area, perhaps using dental adhesive or temporary cement, until your dentist can fully tackle the situation.
Do remember that the tooth underneath still requires good oral hygiene to be practiced, with regular brushing and flossing.
Many patients choose crowns to protect vulnerable teeth, others to enhance their smile. Your dentist will carefully consider both your dental health circumstances and appearance factors before recommending a specific crown.
Alternatively, if a tooth is severely damaged or infected, removal and a bridge or implant may be the better course of action. The cost of the treatment will depend on the type of tooth to be crowned and the material used, but your dentist will always lay out the options for you.