Dental Crowns

What is a Crown?

A crown is a restoration that covers, or "caps," a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size, strengthening and improving the appearance of a tooth. Crowns are necessary when a tooth is generally broken down and fillings won't solve the problem. If a tooth is cracked, a crown holds the tooth together to seal the cracks so the damage doesn't get worse. Crowns are also used to restore a tooth when there isn't enough of the tooth remaining to provide support for a large filling, attach a dental bridge, protect weak teeth from fracturing, restore fractured teeth or cover badly shaped or discolored teeth.

How is a crown placed?

To prepare the tooth for a crown, the tooth is reduced so the crown can fit over it. A molded impression of the teeth and gums is made and sent to the lab for the crown fabrication. A temporary crown is fitted over the tooth until the permanent crown is made. On the next visit, Dr. Hale removes the temporary crown and cements the permanent crown onto the tooth.

Why crowns and not veneers?

Crowns cover more of the tooth than veneers. Crowns are usually recommended for teeth that have sustained significant damage or to replace missing teeth. Crowns may be placed on natural teeth or dental implants.

What is the difference between a cap and a crown?

There is no difference between a cap and a crown.

How long do crowns last?

Crowns are able to last eight years or more. With good oral hygiene and supervision, most crowns will last for a much longer period of time. Some damaging habits like grinding your teeth, chewing ice or fingernail biting may affect the durability of a crown. Over time, these habits can cause a loose dental crown or a cracked dental crown.

How should I take care of my crown?

To prevent damaging or fracturing the crown, avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects. You also want to avoid teeth grinding. Besides visiting your dentist and brushing twice a day, cleaning between your teeth is vital with crowns. Floss or interdental cleaners (specially shaped brushes and sticks) are important tools to remove plaque from the crown area where the gum meets the tooth. Plaque in that area can cause dental decay and gum disease.

Crowns can be made of gold, ceramic or porcelain.

Porcelain Crowns
Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are a strong, durable treatment option. One consideration in the porcelain-fused-to-metal crown is that these crowns may tend to show the underlying metal or gold margin at the gum line as gums recede over time. Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns with an all-porcelain collar can eliminate this issue.

All-Ceramic Crowns
By eliminating the need for the supportive metal core, an all-ceramic crown can be created with less material. This makes them a more favorable treatment choice in areas with limited space. Additionally, the elimination of the metal core allows for light transmission through the porcelain for a more natural appearance.

Gold Crowns
Although not as popular a treatment choice for esthetic reasons, gold crowns are desirable in some instances. Patients with strong bites and those with habits such as grinding or clenching might be better served with a gold crown. Gold crowns can provide stronger support to the remaining healthy tooth structure. Their durability is favorable for teeth located in the back of the mouth, such as the molars, where they will not be highly visible. Gold crowns tend to offer greater longevity and require less preparation than porcelain and porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. When chewing, gold tends to be less abrasive to the opposing tooth than porcelain. This helps to prevent wearing of the teeth.

Fixed Partial Dentures, Dental Implants and Crowns

Fixed partial dentures, or dental bridges, are used to replace missing teeth. Crowns are placed on the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth or teeth, and a replica tooth (or teeth) is connected between the two crowns. Although fixed partial dentures may serve as a functional and esthetic restoration, today’s treatment-of-choice for a missing tooth or teeth is with dental implants. A dental implant replaces missing teeth with a titanium root replica. A crown is then placed on the implant above the gumline. Dental implants support the bite which may prevent further crowning of adjacent teeth. Dental implants also stimulate the jaw, reducing bone loss under the missing tooth.