What Are Dental Crowns?
A dental crown can be defined as a tooth-shaped cap or cover that dentists place over a tooth in order to cover it and restore its shape, strength as well as size. Dental crowns are likewise used to improve the appearance of disfigured and/or discolored teeth. When a crown is cemented into place, it fully encases the visible portion of the tooth that needs correction and lies above the gum line.
Crown restorations can easily be regarded as one of the most prevalent dental procedures throughout the world. Every day, hundreds of thousands of people get dental crowns placed in their mouths to fix tooth problems of all kinds. However, despite the commonality of the procedure, most people do not understand dental crowns very well. In fact, some are even frightened or intimidated by the prospect of going through a crown restoration.
If you are one of those people, you should know that there is nothing to feel daunted by when it comes to dental crowns. Not only do they correct vital tooth problems, but they are also not scary at all. In fact, the procedure of placing dental crowns for teeth restoration is fairly straightforward and logical. More importantly, these prosthetic restorations perform vital functions for the health of teeth and mouth. Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that these fixed prosthetic restorations help in restoring damaged teeth to their original size and shape.
The basic premise behind their function is that dentists cement dental crowns on teeth that are extensively decayed, damaged or cracked. Although the damage sometimes extends down to the root surface, what dental crowns basically replace is the outer part of your natural teeth, which is why they are called “crowns.”
If a dentist recommends a dental crown procedure to you, he/she will get a proper measurement of your teeth and crowns will be custom-made to ensure that they fit perfectly over each tooth. It is also noteworthy that dental crowns can be made using a wide variety of materials such as ceramics, resin, gold or porcelain-and-metal.
Why Is A Dental Crown Needed?
You might need a dental crown in the following situations:
To cover a dental implant
To ensure that a dental bridge stays in place
To carry out a cosmetic modification
To cover severely discolored teeth
To restore a severely worn down or already broken tooth
To save a weak tooth from breaking and/or decay
To hold a cracked tooth together
Children might need a dental crown for the following reasons:
To save teeth that have been extensively damaged by decay and hence, cannot support a filling
To reduce the frequency of administering general anesthesia to children who cannot completely cooperate with the needs of suitable dental care because of their age, medical history or behavior
To protect a child’s teeth that are at a higher risk of undergoing tooth decay, particularly when he/she finds it difficult to keep up with the daily required oral hygiene
In all these cases, pediatric dentists usually recommend a stainless steel dental crown to children.
Raw Materials Used In Making Dental Crowns
As mentioned above, dental crowns can be made using a wide variety of materials such as all-resin, ceramic, stainless steel, porcelain-and-metal, etc. Mentioned below are some of the most common raw materials explained in detail:
Different types of metals are used in making dental crowns. These include alloys with a high content of platinum or gold or even base-metal alloys such as nickel-chromium or cobalt-chromium alloys. The good thing about metal crowns is that they withstand chewing and biting forces well. They also last for a very long time and withstand extensive wear and tear. In addition to that, metal crowns break or chip very rarely. The only drawback to these crowns is perhaps the high price of gold and their metallic color.
These dental crowns are prefabricated and are used on teeth temporarily. Crowns made up of stainless steel protect the filling or tooth while dentists wait for another permanent crown to be made using another material. For instance, in the case of kids, stainless steel crowns are used to fit over primary teeth that have been prepared for them. These crowns cover the tooth and protect it from decay. Hence, when the primary teeth come out in order to create space for the permanent teeth, the dental crowns also come out with them naturally. These types of dental crowns are the most common in children as they do not have to visit a dentist often. They are also custom-made and cost-effective. A win-win for children and parents!
Dental crowns made of all-resin are typically not as costly as the other types of crowns. That said, they tend to wear down over a period of time and are significantly more prone to get cracked or get fractures as compared to crowns made of porcelain and metal.
All-Porcelain Or All-Ceramic
Another type of dental crown is all-ceramic or all-porcelain. These dental crowns offer a much better natural teeth color to patients than any other type of dental crowns. These are also highly suitable for all those patients who have metal allergies. In addition to that, all-ceramic crowns are used for the back and front teeth.
Finally, dentists also commonly used porcelain dental crowns that have been fused to metals. These dental crowns are pretty good as they can be matched according to their color to the adjacent teeth. This is not possible if you go for metallic crowns. That said, these are more prone to wearing down your opposite teeth as compared to resin or metal crowns. The porcelain portion of the crown can also break or chip off. When compared to the rest of the dental crown types, porcelain-and-metal dental crowns resemble normal teeth the most. That said, at times, the metal underlying the porcelain of the crown can seem like a dark line, particularly at the gum line. This can become even more pronounced if the gum recedes. Therefore, porcelain-and-metal dental crowns can be an excellent option for back teeth, front teeth and long bridges where the metal is required to add strength.
Talking about the types of dental crowns, there are also temporary and permanent crowns. Temporary dental crowns can easily be made in the dentist’s office while permanent crowns are mostly made in a laboratory. In addition to that, dental crowns are made using stainless steel or acrylic-based material. Moreover, they can be used to repair teeth temporarily until the permanent crown gets made in a lab.
How Does A Dentist Place A Dental Crown?
Dentists begin by applying an anesthetic to the required area in order to numb the tooth that is going to get the crown. The surrounding gum tissue is also numbed using an anesthetic. After that, they use a dental drill as well as an abrasive bur for the purpose of removing the tooth’s outer surface on all sides and the top. This helps in creating sufficient room to place the crown on the tooth.
In addition to that, if the tooth is not sufficient for the crown to be placed and supported, dentists might also add a crown buildup in order to create a solid foundation for the crown to sit on. After that, dentists make an impression of the required tooth using putty, dental impression paste or a digital scanner. Once that is done, the impression is sent to a dental laboratory to make the crown.
Typically, dental crowns take anywhere between two and three weeks to be made and return from the dental laboratory. During that time, it is not a good or safe practice to allow the tooth to remain uncovered. Therefore, dentists commonly install a temporary crown over the damaged tooth during your initial visit. Thereafter, when the permanent crown comes back from the laboratory, patients must get a second appointment so that it can be installed. In this second session, the temporary crown is removed and replaced with the permanent one. The new crown is adjusted to fit your bite and tooth properly. Dentists are also known to use a special cement that helps them affix the crown properly to the tooth. Once the cement cures, the crown is attached to the tooth firmly.
If your tooth needs a dental crown to be installed, you can expect an initial examination from your dentist. The first step carried out by the dentist will be examining as well as preparing your damaged or decayed teeth for the dental crown procedure. This might involve taking a few X-rays and measurements to check the roots of the teeth and the extent of the damage. More often than not, simple infections or tooth decay problems can be fixed through a straightforward root canal. However, if the damage is extensive, the dentist might recommend tooth extraction and then an implant. During this time, since your tooth cannot and should not be left uncovered, you will likely be fitted with a temporary dental crown till the damage is reversed. After the installation of the dental implant or root canal, the dentist will cover the tooth with a crown to enhance its appearance and make it look like a natural tooth.
In some cases, dentists might also need to reshape the existing teeth in order to make the crown fit perfectly over it. Dental crowns are also common after you have had a bridge installed in your mouth to cement the foundation of two or more teeth.
How Do Dental Crowns Work?
Dentists fix dental crowns on the teeth of patients in the same way that sewing thimbles fit on your fingertips. They are fixed over the tooth’s top, and they protect what lies underneath them. Dentists cement them in place so that they cannot be moved easily and once they are fixed, they act as a new tooth top while holding everything together. Therefore, simply put, dental crowns keep damaged teeth and their parts from breaking apart.
Given their function, dental crowns are made of very durable and resilient materials. They are designed to endure all the trauma that they go through on a daily basis, such as chewing food to disintegrate it effectively. Therefore, you can consider the crown as the cover for the visible (top) part of your tooth. Once the dentist cements the dental crown in place to the damaged tooth, it becomes a part of the tooth.
Why Are Dental Crowns Helpful?
Dental crowns are helpful as they help in restoring the strength, functionality, appearance and shape of a damaged tooth. In fact, after a dentist places a dental crown on one of your teeth, you will be able to use that tooth naturally again for chewing without having to risk damage to everything underneath it. Dental crowns essentially protect the vulnerability of teeth by holding them together physically and shielding them from further damage.
They are equally crucial for maintaining and restoring the structural integrity of your bite and mouth. It is a known fact that when a tooth breaks or decays, it leaves a gap. This gap can lead to further issues when it interferes with the bite or if other teeth start migrating into this gap. Hence, by getting this gap filled using dental crowns, the proper structure of your mouth is restored. Finally, dental crowns also restore the overall appearance of your mouth because they are indistinguishable from your natural teeth.
It is crucial to remember that dental crowns do not answer all kinds of tooth issues. However, they might resolve a large number of dental problems you have been experiencing. Therefore, if you think that you are in need of a dental crown or you have been experiencing some kind of tooth trouble, you must contact your dentist right away! Dental problems can increase significantly if you avoid them or leave them for later. Therefore, do not drag your feet and take action immediately!