Crowns (or caps) are hand-made coverings designed to fit over teeth if they are misshapen, discoloured, or have been weakened by damage or a large filling. A crown will restore the strength of a tooth and give it the shape and colour of your natural teeth.
A crown may be recommended if:
- You want to improve the appearance of a tooth
- Your tooth is weakened by a very large filling
- You have a discoloured filling
- Your tooth is damaged
- You have a root treated tooth which requires crown protection
- You have a bridge or denture which needs to be held in place
Crowns can be made of metal (black/silver), or covered with porcelain to imitate the look of your natural teeth. Southern Dental provides full porcelain crowns for a completely natural look, with the end result being virtually indistinguishable from a real tooth, the crown can be hand-made, wholly from porcelain. Crowns can also be used to improve the appearance of mis-shapen or discoloured teeth.
Preparation time will vary depending on the condition of the damaged tooth. The tooth will be reshaped, to ensure that once the crown is fitted, it remains the same size and shape as the natural teeth. It may also need to be built up with a filling first. A local anaesthetic is usually given prior to preparation, to avoid any discomfort. After preparation, an impression is taken of the tooth to be crowned and nearby teeth, using a soft mouldable material. This impression is given to a dental technician, who uses it to build your crown to the exact size and shape required. This will ensure that the crown fits comfortably. When using porcelain crowns, the colour will also be matched to the natural teeth.
Whilst the crown is being made, a temporary crown will be fitted. This will not be as strong as the final crown, but can still be chewed upon. Once the crown is ready, it will be tried in place and small adjustments made to ensure a comfortable bite is maintained. Once you and your dentist are happy, the crown is glued in place. Crowns are sometimes held in place with a small peg in your root canal, if there is a lot of the original tooth missing.
The crown can last for many years if good oral hygiene is maintained, depending on the condition of the original tooth. Additional care should be taken to keep the crown and surrounding area clean. Your dentist or dental hygienist will recommend an appropriate home care regime.
What will my crown be made from?
Crowns are made from various materials depending on the clinical diagnosis and personal preferences. Your dentist will recommend the most appropriate material. The most popular are:
- Porcelain, bonded to precious metal: this is used for most crowns, consisting of a precious metal base with layers of porcelain boned on top
- Pure porcelain: this is used for metal-free crowns giving them a more natural appearance
- Porcelain and composite resins: these are new materials used for metal-free crowns giving them improved wear and strength
- Solid precious metal (gold and palladium): these are very strong and hard-wearing and are mainly used at the back of the mouth where they can’t be seen
Will my crown look completely natural?
Your dentist can now fit pure porcelain crowns on both the front and back teeth. These have the translucency and beauty of natural teeth with the inner strength of the latest generation porcelain. By substituting the gold core with porcelain, dental technicians are able to exercise a greater degree of artistry to create crowns that have no dark margins, making them virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth.
How long will the whole process take?
It normally takes two appointments. The first is for preparing the tooth, taking impressions, recording the shade of your teeth, and fitting a temporary crown. The second appointment is for cementing the permanent crown.
Is preparation for a crown painful?
No. Local anaesthetic is used and the preparation should feel no different from a filling. If a tooth does not have a nerve following root canal treatment, then a local anaesthetic may not be needed.
Are crowns noticeable?
Your dentist will match the crown as closely as possible to the other teeth, in size, shape and colour. This should ensure that it fits comfortably and looks natural.
How do I care for my crown?
The crown itself cannot decay, but decay can start where the edge of the crown joins the tooth. It is therefore important to clean this area thoroughly as you would with your natural teeth. Your crown will last longer if you look after it well.