A Patient’s Quick Guide to Dental Crowns

If you have a tooth which feels like it is falling apart, do not despair. A dentist may be able to save the tooth using a dental crown. A crown is a covering which fits over a damaged tooth to protect the tooth. This may improve your smile, and restore your chewing ability. Here is what you should know about dental crowns:

Crowns Resolve a Multitude of Tooth Issues

Crowns are dental restorations that cover damaged teeth. For example, if a tooth is discolored from trauma or malformation, the crown may mask the discoloration. While a crown is often used as a cosmetic enhancement for a front tooth, it can also provide protection for a weak tooth.

Crowns can be used to:

  • Protect a tooth weakened by decay
  • Prevent a cracked tooth from flexing
  • Restore the contour of a chipped tooth
  • Cover an unsightly filling
  • Enhance Malformed teeth

A permanent crown is strong and durable like your natural tooth. Crowns may be supported by natural tooth structure or a dental implant. To ensure your crown’s success, the dentist will make sure not only is the remaining tooth is strong enough to support the crown, but the tooth has good bone support before recommending the procedure.

Crowns Work Best When Teeth And Gums Are Healthy

Before preparing your tooth for a crown, it may be best to have your teeth cleaned. When a crown is fabricated, an impression is taken. If your gums are inflamed, they may bleed during the impression process. Bleeding around the prepared tooth can affect the impression which can ultimately affect the fit of your crown. A poor fitting crown can lead to more gum issues, thermal sensitivity, and decay. Decay under your crown will necessitate the replacement of your crown.

A common misperception is that if a tooth is to receive a crown, it needs root canal therapy before the crown is placed. This is not true. If a crown is being placed prophylactically due to a large filling, decay, or broken tooth, the nerve of the tooth may be healthy. When the nerve is inflamed, infected, or dead, a root canal is required. Once a tooth has had a root canal, a crown is usually recommended to protect the tooth. A tooth that no longer has an active blood supply will no longer receive nutrients and become brittle. Brittle teeth will not endure the forces that normal function places on a tooth. So, in an attempt to prevent a root canal tooth from breaking, a protective covering is placed over the tooth.

Crowns Require Multiple Steps

Typically, the first step of the crown process is a temporary stint impression of the tooth before you begin. This impression is used to form your temporary crown that you will wear while the laboratory fabricates your permanent crown. Because a crown covers most to all of the tooth, it is difficult to know the health of the fillings under a crown. Due to this fact, any filling material in a tooth which is to be crowned is replaced. This is knows a build-up. Build-ups may be retained by natural tooth structure, pins, or posts in a canal system. To prepare your tooth for a crown, a dentist circumferentially reduces and shortens the tooth to allow for the thickness of the crown material. If there isn’t enough tooth to provide an anchor, a procedure called crown elongation may be required. This procedure clinically lengthens the tooth to allow for adequate natural tooth structure inside a crown which is necessary for your crowns long term success. Crown elongation may also help get gum tissue out of the way to ensure a good impression.

After your tooth is prepared, an impression of the tooth is taken. This impression captures the shape and size of the prepared tooth, adjacent teeth and the opposing teeth. This impression is sent to a dental laboratory where your crown is fabricated. After the impression is taken, an temporary crown is fabricated using the original temporary stint impression. The temporary is placed on the prepared tooth to help protect the prepared tooth, keep you comfortable by covering exposed tooth structure, keep the adjacent and opposing teeth in their original position.

Another component of the crown fabrication process is color and material selection. There are many different materials used today ranging from gold to porcelain. Most of today’s crowns are fabricated from synthetic materials which are free of metal content. The tooth location in the mouth, reason for the crown treatment, and the patient’s desires influence the crown material selection. A shade is selected to make the crown blend in when tooth colored material is selected.

Once the crown has been fabricated at the lab, you will return to the office for a delivery appointment. This is usually a much shorter appointment than the preparation appoint. You may or may not need to get numb for this appoint depending upon if the tooth has had a root canal or if the tooth is sensitive without the temporary on it. The temporary is removed, and the new permanent crown is tried on to determine quality of fit and color. If the dentist likes the fit, and the patient likes the color, the crown is permanently affixed to the tooth. This is done with cement or bonding agents. The crown will then have a final occlusal adjustment and polish.

Even though crowns are therapeutic procedures to help protect the tooth and restore function, it is a traumatic event for the tooth. Post-operative sensitivity is not uncommon, but usually short lived. If the sensitivity is significant or long lasting, the patient should contact the dentist for a post-operative evaluation. Quite commonly, a simple adjustment can resolve the issue.

You will be given post-operative care instructions, including dental hygiene information and

Save your cracked, chipped, or decayed tooth by contacting Silverstone Family Dental today. We perform crown procedures for patients in Meridian, in Boise, and throughout southwest Idaho.