A dental crown is a type of dental restoration and serves as a component in many different types of restorative treatments. Dental crowns are also known as “caps,” as they fit on top of existing teeth or over dental implants. Dental crowns are most often made of porcelain, a material that is both strong and non-porous (thus more resistant to staining like tooth enamel), and reflects light in much the same way as a natural tooth.
The crown is a very important part of the tooth structure. Crowns are usually the part of the tooth that people can see. Crowns have different shapes and surfaces for the different functions of each type of tooth. Another very important job of a dental crown is to protect the interior portion of the tooth from bacteria and decay. Crowns are covered with enamel, which is very hard and strong, but still vulnerable to damage and decay.
If a tooth is broken, cracked, or damaged, the ability of the enamel and crown to protect the tooth is compromised. Dental crowns are needed in order to protect the inside of the tooth and seal out bacteria and food particles. Otherwise, the tooth is vulnerable to infection and decay, and eventual tooth loss or other dental emergency.
Dental crowns are often needed after root canal therapy, and are also used when creating a dental bridge, or are placed over a dental implant when replacing a tooth. Dental crowns are also used as an alternative to dental veneers when correcting issues such as broken or chipped teeth.
If the dental crown will be placed over your original tooth, such as with dental bridges and root canals, the tooth or teeth must be prepared so that the crown can fit snugly on top of the tooth structure. Tooth preparation and the delivery of the permanent crown are usually done in two steps.
First, your dentist will numb the area to be treated with local anesthetic. Next, they will reshape the outside tooth by shaving and removing enough of the tooth material to allow the crown to sit on top and fit with the rest of your teeth. Once this process is complete, your dentist will take an impression of your teeth, which will be sent to a dental laboratory where a permanent crown will be created to match your smile. Your dentist will create and place a temporary crown to seal and protect the tooth temporarily until your permanent crown is ready for placement.
During the placement of the permanent crown, your dentist will remove the temporary crown, ensure the prepared tooth is clean, and place the permanent crown over the prepared tooth. Your dentist may need to make adjustments to ensure your crown fits and feels natural in your mouth before permanently cementing the crown into place.
Sometimes, following a [pulpotomy] procedure, also known as a root canal for a baby tooth, the dentist may recommend placement of a stainless steel or tooth-colored crown to protect the tooth from further damage or decay.
The cost of a dental crown depends upon the material used to make it, as well as a variety of other factors. Your dentist will review the procedure requiring a dental crown, and our staff will create a customized treatment plan and work with you to find the best way to ensure the treatment you need will fit comfortably into your monthly budget.
In most cases, a dental crown is considered a part of major procedure, and may be covered at different rates. Our insurance specialists can review your coverage and determine an estimate for what your policy may cover in order to help you maximize your insurance benefits.
Dental crowns are designed to be strong and should last many years with proper care and maintenance. That means brushing for two minutes, twice per day and flossing at least once every day, taking care to avoid very hard or sticky foods, which can damage or break dental crowns and regular teeth as well. Another critical step in your maintenance routine for your dental crown and overall oral health is to visit Fresh Smiles for regular checkups and cleanings every 6 months.
It is important to note that temporary crowns are just that – the material and cement are designed as a measure to protect your tooth until a permanent crown has been created in a dental lab. If left too long, temporary cement will break down and can allow food particles and bacteria to penetrate under the temporary crown and reach the vulnerable prepared tooth. This can cause decay or infection resulting in a dental emergency or loss of the tooth. Temporary crowns are also not as strong as permanent crowns, so they may break, which will also allow bacteria and food particles to penetrate. Once a tooth has been prepared to receive a crown, it is very important to return to the office to have the permanent crown placed as recommended by the dentist.
With proper care and follow up, your dental crown is strong and designed to last for years. Crowns need to be brushed and flossed daily like regular teeth, and need to be evaluated every 6 months by your dentist during your regular exam to ensure that the structure is sound. Typical crown replacement is around 5 years.