You first feel excited because you were thinking about a crown for the top of your head! But now that know better, you realize your dentist is talking about the treatment needed for one of your precious teeth. What kind of dental crown is best? How many appointments will there be? How many different dental crown procedures are available? Will a crown look great and blend in with the rest of your teeth? How long will the process take, and will it last? Let’s get some of your questions answered.
Why a crown?
When your future dental treatment plans include a crown, that typically means that there is not enough healthy tooth structure left of your natural tooth to do a simple filling or a restoration. Your troublesome tooth may have:
- A cavity or active decay
- A crack or fracture line through the surface(s)
- Another tooth biting against it that may cause harm to certain materials
- A piece of broken-off tooth
- A failing, pre-existing restoration or filling
- A past treatment to remove infection from the pulp of the tooth or a previous endodontic treatment (e.g., root canal)
Sometimes the placement of a crown is chosen to cosmetically help the patient, due to the existing shape, size, spacing, or shade of a tooth. In addition, a crown may be needed to cover or to restore a dental implant or to cover teeth that are holding a bridge or a false tooth in place.
Talk through your options
We want to make sure that you are making an excellent and well-thought-out decision for your treatment. You should have a dental consultation or time with your dental professional to talk through your options. We don’t want you to feel rushed. You need to look at examples (including photos) and to talk about the different materials and techniques in order to make sure that the determined treatment plan is right for your situation. Make sure that you and your dentist clearly discuss your goals for your mouth, your teeth and your smile. This will allow you both to have all the facts.
Crowns are an excellent treatment choice in situations where the tooth has been damaged beyond what a filling or a restoration can fix. Dental crowns are made to closely resemble the tooth surfaces that have been damaged or to replace those that are missing.
Additionally, your tooth may need to be built up prior to preparing it to receive a crown. A dental crown must be able to be cemented or bonded to a solid, strong foundation. If that foundation is not there, your dentist will need to build one with a crown build-up. Once that is built, your dentist will be able to fully prepare your tooth for the crown. The materials and methods used to build your crown will depend on your specific situation and on the location of your tooth that needs treatment. Here are the options:
Full porcelain crowns
Porcelain is attractive, strong, stable, and highly resistant to wear. It offers a high level of compatibility between the restoration and the tissue because it doesn’t contain any metal. A porcelain dental crown also provides the best natural color to coordinate with the rest of your teeth and is an excellent choice for front teeth. Achieving the proper aesthetic quality in a porcelain crown requires a highly-skilled dental laboratory, working alongside your dentist.
Teeth are a blend of colors or shades, and the surface material (known as enamel) is very translucent—especially at the biting edge of the tooth. In the lab, a technician (called a ceramist) can achieve an amazing result by layering different colors of ceramic to blend shades and to build translucency. Lab-produced crowns may also be better for people who clench their teeth. Likewise, clenching puts a patient at higher risk for tooth breakage, so they might prefer a gold crown—the strongest kind—which currently cannot be made with the small mills contained in dentists’ offices (see the section below).
Metal offers both strength and endurance. A precious metal crown may be recommended for back teeth or for front teeth where the forces of biting and chewing are the greatest. A metal crown will not crack or break unless something catastrophic happens. A precious metal will be used, allowing the crown to work in a healthy way with the soft tissue that surrounds it. A non-precious metal dental crown is often the least expensive treatment option, but it is not always compatible with the soft tissue in your mouth and could cause an allergic reaction or a darkening at the gumline.
This type of crown offers the benefits of a natural tooth color that is similar to the rest of your teeth, as well as the strength of a precious metal beneath it. Because of the two layers of material (porcelain and metal), there may be a need for more reduction of the tooth. There is a risk of darkening at the gumline.
Maintaining your crown after it is completed
Maintaining your new crown is actually quite easy. Much like your original teeth, your new crown will require a thorough home-care routine, consisting of brushing, flossing, and applying fluoride. Also, you will need to visit your dentist and your dental hygienist for follow-up evaluations and for periodic preventive care appointments.
If you have teeth that are broken, damaged, or decayed, a crown is an excellent treatment of choice to restore that tooth to its original health with natural-looking and highly predictable results.
Your team of professionals at Millennium Dental will be happy to schedule and perform a comprehensive evaluation to help you decide on the best solution for achieving your ultimate dental health. Together, we can restore beauty and functionality to your smile!