Dental crowns are fixed dental prosthetics that we use to restore severely damaged teeth. Unlike some prosthetic dental appliances like dentures, crowns are permanently cemented onto your natural teeth or dental implants and cannot be removed. In the extremely unlikely event that your dental crown becomes damaged, we can remove and replace them with a new dental crown.
How Do Dental Crowns Work?
A dental crown is designed to entirely cover a natural tooth or dental implant. Dental crowns restore the strength of the damaged tooth as well as its aesthetic appearance, shape, and function. A natural tooth that is about to receive a dental crown must be prepared by removing a portion of the enamel that surrounds the tooth. This alteration is permanent as enamel does not regrow. If we are using a dental crown to finish a dental implant, the crown will cover the implant completely and will be attached to it permanently using dental adhesive and implant abutment.
The following are some of the reasons that we might recommend a dental crown:
- To restore a tooth that has been fractured beyond repair
- To protect a tooth that we suspect will fail in the future
- To attach a dental bridge
- To replace large (amalgam) fillings that won’t leave enough of the natural tooth remaining
- To cover a dental implant
- To cover a tooth that is misshapen or discolored
- To protect a tooth that has had root canal therapy
How Long Do Dental Crowns Last?
Dental crowns are made to last a lifetime, but sometimes they will deteriorate or fail due to decay. Dental crowns must be taken care of in the same way that you would take care of your natural teeth. Regular brushing and flossing should be part of your twice-daily oral health routine. It’s also important that you come in for regular dental exams and cleanings so that we can take a look at your crown and see if it needs to be replaced.
While all dental crowns are made to last a lifetime, there is some consideration to be given to the different materials that dental crowns are made from. Some restoration materials, like gold, are extremely long-lasting.
Materials Used To Make Dental Crowns
Dental crowns can be crafted out of a wide variety of materials depending on the tooth that will be restored, and the desired aesthetic. If we are placing a crown on a tooth that is featured prominently in the smile, you might want something that looks just like a natural tooth, whereas if we are restoring a molar, you might want a material that lends itself to extreme durability over the aesthetic value. Below we will explain some of the different materials that are used to make dental crowns, and when they are most frequently used.
Porcelain Dental Crowns
Porcelain is a very common dental restoration material that we use for a variety of different applications. Porcelain is notable due to its ability to mimic the look and feel of real teeth almost perfectly. Because of the way light can play in porcelain, it is said to be one of the closest aesthetic matches to real teeth. Porcelain is used to craft dental veneers, bridges, and crowns.
Porcelain can resist staining much better than your natural teeth, so they keep their color over time. While porcelain is quite strong, it is considered too brittle to be useful in restoring teeth that deal with lots of bite pressure, like the molars.
Ceramic Dental Crowns
There are lots of different ceramic options that we can use to restore your teeth. Ceramics, like zirconia, can withstand high bite pressures, making them ideal for replacing molars. Ceramics do a good job of looking like a real tooth as well, while they are not quite as aesthetically similar to a tooth as porcelain, ceramic restorations still do a decent job of looking like a real tooth. For these reasons, ceramic crowns are a good option for those looking to protect most teeth.
Metal was once a common material used to restore teeth with bridges and crowns. Now, there are enough viable options that look similar to teeth so metal is less common. Although there are some variations on metal crowns that are still in use today. Porcelain fused to metal (PFM) and ceramic fused to metal (CFM) crowns are popular because they mix the superior strength of metal with the aesthetic qualities of either porcelain or ceramics. We will sometimes opt for a metal or metal fusion crown when it is clear that a patient bites with extreme pressure. Metal is a long-lasting material, extremely durable, and high quality.
Gold has been used to restore teeth for thousands of years. Gold very closely matches the hardness and consistency of a natural tooth and is probably the longest-lasting dental restoration available today. Many people find the aesthetic of gold restorations to be quite beautiful, and prefer them to natural-looking restorations. If you are interested in a gold crown, please let us know, and we will be happy to help!
Dental Crown Placement Procedure
Because a dental crown isn’t something that you usually know you need, you will probably learn that you need one following a professional examination. Dr. Dose will inform you of the need for a dental crown, where it will be placed, and what is going on with your tooth that necessitates a crown. Once you understand the need for a crown, we can begin the dialog on what kind of crown you would like to have placed. We are more than happy to help you determine which materials we believe would be a good fit for your dental crown. There is no “right” answer when it comes to the material used to craft it, just your preference along with some common sense.
We will schedule an appointment for you to come back to our office. Having a dental crown placed usually requires at least two trips to our office to complete.
The First Appointment
On your first trip to our office, we will start the way we start all of our procedures – by ensuring your comfort. We will administer a local anesthetic to ensure that the site around the tooth is numb so that you will not feel a thing. If dental work makes you nervous, we understand and offer a variety of sedation options to help you feel comfortable and relaxed. Nitrous oxide is the most popular sedation option because it is fast-acting, and gives the patient a feeling of ease and warmth. We administer nitrous oxide via a face mask that is worn over your nose. When you feel comfortable, it will be time to begin the procedure.
We will start by taking an impression of your tooth that we will send to our dental lab so that they can create a replica of your tooth, which will fit into your bite perfectly. Once we have the impression, we will start preparing your tooth to receive the crown. In preparation for the crown, we will shave off some of the enamel around your tooth. This is done to make room for the crown to sit on top of the tooth. If no enamel is taken off of the tooth, the crown would need to be far too large to look or act like a normal tooth. Removing enamel from a tooth is a permanent procedure. Once a tooth has had the enamel removed, we will place a temporary crown over it so that you can continue using your tooth as you normally would while you wait for the finalized crown to be finished.
We will make sure that the temporary crown fits into your bite properly and will make any small changes that need to be made before you leave. At the end of your first appointment, we will make sure to get you scheduled for your second appointment, and we will give you instructions on your temporary crown. The temporary crown is held on with temporary dental adhesive, so some care should be taken to avoid chewing sticky or hard substances. Chewing things like caramel or ice should be avoided when you have a temporary dental crown. In the extremely unlikely event that your temporary crown comes off, just give us a call at (503) 765-7300 and let us know and we will be happy to place it back on your tooth.
The Second Appointment
The second appointment is usually the final appointment in a typical dental crown placement procedure. We will begin the appointment by removing the temporary crown. We will then clean your tooth and wash it with an antibacterial wash to ensure no decay-causing bacteria can infect your tooth after crown placement. Once the tooth has been cleaned, we will place the permanent crown on top of it and affix it with permanent dental cement. We will check to make sure that the crown fits into your bite properly and make any alterations that are necessary.
As mentioned above, it is important that your brush and floss regularly to ensure that your dental crown and teeth last you a long time. Make sure to come in for a regular cleaning and examination at least once every six months. Do you need a dental crown? Give us a call at (503) 647-4565. We are happy to help you learn more about your smile!
Or book an appointment with us online today!