A crown is a restoration that covers or "caps" a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size, while strengthening and improving the appearance of a tooth. Crowns are necessary when a tooth is broken down and fillings won't solve the problem. If a tooth is cracked, a crown holds the tooth together so the damage doesn't get worse. Crowns are also used when there isn't enough of the tooth remaining to provide support for a filling, attach a bridge or protect weak teeth from fracturing. Crowns may also restore fractured teeth, cover badly shaped or discolored teeth and cover dental implants.
To prepare the tooth for a crown, it is reduced so the crown can fit over it. An impression of the tooth 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, the dentist removes the temporary crown and bonds the permanent crown to the tooth.
Crowns should last approximately five to eight years. However, with good oral hygiene and supervision, most crowns will last for a much longer period of time. Some damaging habits like grinding your teeth or chewing ice may put crowns at risk for fracture. To prevent damaging or fracturing the crown, avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects. You also want to avoid teeth grinding. If you do grind, talk to your dentist about the use of a bite splint.
Besides visiting your dentist and brushing twice a day, cleaning between your teeth is very important if you have crowns. Floss or inter-dental cleaners are important tools used to remove plaque from the crown. Plaque can cause dental decay and gum disease. At Drakeshire Dental, we recommend applications of fluoride varnish at every cleaning appointment to prevent decay, especially if you have crowns or bridges.
Gold restorations are well known to have the greatest longevity and strength of all dental restorations. Many dentists and patients report 20-30 years of service. Gold alloy wears almost exactly like tooth enamel, therefore the wear of opposing teeth is minimal. Gold restorations are not tooth-colored, and most people object to placing them in areas of the mouth that may show.
Porcelain-fused -to-metal-crowns. These crowns have a metal liner that cannot be seen with porcelain on top. They look better than gold restorations but they may show some metal if the gums recede. They are known to be very strong.
Ceramic Restorations are beautiful and natural-appearing. They don't have any metal. If you have a need for an optimum esthetics or you have allergies to metals, you may want to consider an all-ceramic restoration.
Bridges are natural-looking and are designed to replace a tooth or a section of missing teeth. To do a bridge, the dentist takes teeth next to the missing space and shapes them so they can receive crowns that will hold the missing tooth or teeth. Because they are custom-made, bridges are barely noticeable and can restore the natural contour of teeth as well as the proper bite relationship between upper and lower teeth. Bridges are bonded into place and can only be removed by a dentist.