Dental Crowns

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap that replaces the top part of a damaged tooth. It may be attached to the healthy bottom part of your natural tooth. In the case of a missing tooth, a crown is anchored by an implant – a titanium metal post implanted in your jawbone.

A dental crown is made in a lab to the proper size and appropriate shape and color, and it functions just like your natural tooth. It covers the entire visible section of a tooth above the gum line.

Different Types of Dental Crowns

Crowns can be made of all metal; porcelain fused to metal, all porcelain, and ceramic material. Some people choose metal crowns because they are nearly indestructible, whereas porcelain crowns may chip or crack.

Porcelain Crowns vs. Metal Crowns

On the other hand, metal crowns are quite expensive, being made from all gold or a mixture containing gold. Porcelain crowns are more attractive than metal, matching the natural tooth color.

The porcelain fused to metal crowns are stronger than all porcelain crowns, and they require less tooth reduction. Ceramic crowns made of a type of zirconia are the newest type. They are stronger than porcelain and also considerably more expensive.

The Procedure for Placing a Dental Crown on a Damaged Tooth

It takes only three steps to place a dental crown on your damaged tooth.

Step 1 – Preparing the Tooth for the Crown

The patient is anesthetized, and the tooth is prepared by grinding it down to the core. The tooth is prepared below the gum line, so the metal margins of the crown will not be visible when the final crown is inserted.

Step 2 – Taking Tooth Impression for Preparing a Crown

After cutting the preparation, an impression is taken of the teeth in the arch where the prepared tooth lies as well as the opposing teeth. This impression is sent to a lab which specializes in making dental crowns. In about three weeks, a finished crown will come back from the lab.

Step 3 – Placing the Crown

The finished crown is then cemented to the prepared tooth using a cement appropriate for the type of crown being used.

Implant Anchored Crowns to Replace Missing Teeth

For an individual implant anchored crown, a titanium rod is placed in a hole drilled in the bone. An abutment is attached to the rod.

A crown prepared in a dental lab using an impression of the patient’s teeth is attached to the abutment. This generally requires three visits to the dentist.

Implant Anchored Crowns vs. Removable Dentures

Implant anchored crowns have many benefits when compared to removable dentures. They integrate into the structure of your own bone and prevent bone loss and gum recession. They function just like natural teeth so that you can eat all foods. You can’t misplace them, and you won’t have to deal with messy denture plates or adhesives. Furthermore, implant anchored dental crowns usually look even better than your natural teeth.

Caring for Your Dental Crowns

For the first day after a crown is placed, your dentist may recommend not chewing sticky or very hard foods with that tooth. Otherwise, crowns should be considered part of your teeth and subject to regular oral hygiene, such as correct brushing, flossing, and regular dental exams.

Handling Problems that may Occur after Dental Crown Procedures

While most patients have minimal problems with their crowns, some discomfort or damage may occur. Below are possible problems and how we handle them.

Discomfort or Sensitivity

Your newly crowned tooth may be sensitive immediately after the procedure when the anesthesia wears off. If the tooth that has been crowned still has a nerve in it, you may experience some heat and cold sensitivity. We recommend that you use a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. Pain or sensitivity that occurs when you bite down usually means that the crown is too high on the tooth. If this is the case, call your dentist, who can easily fix the problem.

Chipped Crown

Crowns made of all porcelain can sometimes chip. If the chip is small, a composite resin can be used to repair the chip with the crown remaining in your mouth. If the chipping is extensive, the crown may need to be replaced.

Loose Crown

Sometimes the cement washes out from under the crown. Not only does this allow the crown to become loose, but it also allows bacteria to leak in and cause decay to the tooth that remains. If a crown feels loose, contact our office. Your dentist will fix the problem.

Allergic Reaction

Although rare, this sometimes happens, especially with the metal-based crowns. Because the metals used to make crowns are usually a mixture of metals, an allergic reaction to the metals or porcelain used in crowns can occur.

If you know you are allergic to certain metals, inform your dentist beforehand. You will probably want to choose a metal-free type of dental crown. The most common metal allergy is to the nickel in certain alloys. Allergic reactions are very rare to nickel-free gold or stainless steel. An allergy to titanium, the common material for implant posts, is also rare, but there have been some documented cases. There are allergy tests for most metals that can be performed by an allergist, a physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergies.

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