What Are Dental Crowns?

Crowns

If your teeth have been damaged or cracked in any way, then a crown or cap can improve the way your teeth not only look but function. A crown strengthens your existing damaged tooth allowing it to work properly. Dental crowns are also commonly known as caps because they sit over your existing tooth, covering the entire outer surface.

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If you have a tooth or teeth that have significantly decayed and there is not enough tooth structure to support a filling or your tooth has been fractured and cannot be built up using traditional composite bonding techniques, then you may be a suitable candidate for a crown or cap. You may also want to opt for a crown if you have a large cavity and want more protection than a filling or inlay may offer or if you grind your teeth or have acid erosion. Dentists also often use crowns after root canal treatment to strengthen the tooth. If you have had a dental implant to replace a missing tooth, a crown will be fitted to the implant.

Before you decide whether or not to have a crown you will need to have a consultation with a dentist to see if the procedure is suitable for you. It may well be that a less invasive option like veneers or dental bonding may be more suitable. Once you and your dentists have agreed to go ahead the dentist will prepare the tooth by removing any decay and reshape it using a special drill to allow the crown to be placed over it. This will be done under local anaesthetic. An impression will then be taken of your tooth/teeth being crowned. This will be sent off to a dental lab so the crown can be made. This process can take between two and three weeks so you will usually be fitted with a temporary crown.

Once your crown has been made you will need to come back to your dentist for it to be fitted. Once your dentist has checked that it is the right size, shape and colour match it will be cemented into place. This process may be slightly different if you are having the crown to anchor a dental bridge or as a dental implant restoration.

Crowns will usually last 10-15 years after which time you will need to have them replaced. Some people also opt to replace their crowns earlier for aesthetic reasons, particularly to replace a metal crown with a porcelain or ceramic crown which looks more natural. The results you will get from having a crown or crowns fitted will depend on how well you look after your teeth. Like your natural teeth, the more you look after them, the longer they will last.

There are a variety of different types of crowns available. They can be made from metal (in some cases gold), ceramic, or porcelain fused to metal. The type of crown you have will depend on what you want and what your dentist advises.

Metal Crowns

Metal crowns can be made of a combination of materials including gold alloy, palladium, nickel alloy, or chromium alloy. Although some people have a gold cap as a fashion statement, most people don’t like the look of metal crowns. However, they can be a good option for repairing decayed or damaged back teeth as they are incredibly durable and long lasting and require less of your natural tooth to be removed.

Ceramic Crowns

Ceramic crowns are the most natural looking type of crown. They can be made of tooth-coloured porcelain, resins, or dental ceramic materials and are most commonly used on visible front teeth. Although they are aesthetically better than metal crowns, they are not as resilient and are not ideal on the back teeth where they are under pressure from chewing.

Porcelain Crowns Fused to Metal

Although porcelain crowns fused to metal are stronger than ceramic crowns they do not look as natural because the metal makes them less translucent and the metal can sometimes be seen along the gum line. They do however look better than all metal crowns.

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