You may have heard of dental crowns before, already have one or your dentist has suggested that this is appropriate for you. In this article, we will outline the Dental tooth crown procedure and how it might apply to you.
If someone suggested you need a crown, you might take it as a compliment, but if a dentist recommends it, they are usually trying to save your tooth.
Essentially a crown is a very durable shell or helmet for a tooth made out of very strong porcelain or sometimes gold. It is entirely custom-designed for an individual tooth and carefully glued into place.
Why would I need a dental crown?
A dental crown is a very durable way to repair a broken or weakened tooth. If your tooth has experienced a lot of decay, multiple fillings, or has cracked then a crown can be a very good way of fixing your tooth for the long run. Teeth that have had root canal treatment often require crowns to enhance their durability. We also observe that teeth with larger metal fillings done decades ago are more prone to fracturing.
Is a crown the same as a filling?
The short answer is NO. A filling is used to repair teeth have been decayed or incurred minor to moderate damage. In many cases a filling is more than able to repair a tooth for many years. Once the decayed part of the toot is cleaned out, the white resin filling material is bonded to the tooth surface directly by the dentist at the same appointment.
Is the crown the same as a root canal?
NO… As dentists, we are often asked this question because in many situations, teeth have root canal treatment also require dental crowns.
A root canal procedure is performed to remove the nerve tissue within a tooth if it becomes infected and painful.
The most common causes are deep decay, previous deep fillings or extensive cracking. The other alternative is to have the tooth extracted.
Understandably, in many cases a tooth that needs a root canal will be extensively weakened and often needs a crown.
BUT it is very common to require a crown on a weak tooth that has a healthy and living nerve.
So how is a dental crown made?
To fit a crown over your tooth, it must first be trimmed back to make space. In most cases much of this will be the existing filling material if the tooth has been repaired. As mentioned previously, crowns are made from porcelain or metals such as gold. Due to the high temperatures required to make such hard materials this must be done outside of the mouth.
Traditionally, taking a mould or an impression of the trimmed back tooth is done to allow a dental crown to be made. Crowns are made by qualified technicians who craft a precisely fitting restoration which the dentist can then glue back on.
A temporary plastic crown is placed on you tooth by the dentist while your crown is being made. Modern technology is also being used to improve durability, convenience and the patient experience. Instead of taking moulds, it is now common to use 3D scanning devices to capture the image of the prepared tooth and have a crown designed digitally.
Do dental crowns last forever?
NO… Despite crowns typically lasting over 10 years they are not indestructible. You still need to be careful not to crunch excessively on har d, brittle or sticky foods. You also need to remember that brushing and flossing regularly are just as important even if you have dental crowns as it is still possible to get decay under them.
What if I can’t afford a crown?
A crown is an expensive dental procedure. A lot of time, materials, skill and technology goes into their construction which is why the price is around $1400-$1600. Your dentist may be able to provide you with an alternative option including a large filling that may be able to last for the short to medium term.