Sometimes the best way to restore a damaged tooth is with a dental crown. A crown is essentially a “cap” that restores a tooth to it’s normal shape and size. Crowns strengthen and repair the tooth’s structure, even improving the appearance of color, shape, and alignment.
There are several reasons why we might recommend a crown:
You have a large cavity. Most cavities we can simply use a filling, but if the cavity is too large, a crown might be our best option.
You have a missing tooth. Bridgework involves crowning the teeth on either side of the missing tooth to hold the bridge in place.
You have a damaged tooth. A damaged tooth will likely get worse and won’t function properly. A crown will strengthen the tooth and restore it to full function.
You had a root canal. The crown will protect your newly-restored tooth.
You have a dental implant. An implant is a tooth-root replacement, and the crown will cover the new implant.
Types of Crowns
There are a few options available when choosing the material for your permanent dental crown. The material chosen can vary due to the structure of the tooth or visibility, with each material having its own benefits and drawbacks.
All-metal Alloy Dental Crowns
Metal alloy crowns are strong and durable, and will likely last a lifetime. Because they are not tooth colored, they are usually used on back teeth, such as molars, which are out of sight and need to be strong. Gold is the normal choice for all-metal crowns, though they can also be formed with nickel, chromium, or palladium.
Porcelain or Ceramic Dental Crowns
Ceramic crowns are easily matched to the natural color of our teeth and when placed well, even a close inspection of your smile won’t reveal the crown, making this material a good choice for front teeth.
Stainless Steel Dental Crowns
Steel is easy to work with and doesn’t require multiple visits. This makes steel the ideal material for both temporary crowns on permanent teeth and for crowns on children’s primary teeth. The crown will be made to fit and cover the entire tooth, protecting it from further decay.
Porcelain-Fused-To-Metal (PFM) Dental Crowns
In an attempt to compromise between the strength of metal and the appearance of ceramic, we can also create a hybrid crown with a porcelain covering over a metal substructure. This method has been the most reliable for front tooth restoration, though will sometimes be used for back teeth when the patient is concerned about color.
What to Expect
The first appointment involves shaping the tooth, preparing it for the crown. The dentist will anesthetize your teeth and gums, then reduce the affected tooth on all sides; clearing away any decay that may be present. Shaping will give sufficient space for the crown to fit correctly and help it stay in place.
We’ll take an impression of your teeth so the crown will be a perfect fit. The impression material is like clay or putty. It will form a perfect mold of your teeth that the lab will then use to make a plaster cast. The cast is then used to make your crown. The fabrication process usually takes about two weeks.
On your return visit, the process is quick and easy. Before we can cement your new crown in place, we’ll double check that everything fits and will look how you want it to look. We might make some minor adjustments before we cement your new, finished crown into place.
Once your new crown is in place, you might have to take it easy for a while. After getting a crown, you will likely be numb, so you’ll need to take care chewing until full sensation has returned.
Some types of cement might require a day or two to fully cure, and in that case, you’ll be instructed to avoid hard or sticky foods for a short while. You’ll also need to pay close attention to how your new crown functions.
Tips to Avoid Ever Needing A Crown
Crowns are an important procedure for restoring teeth, and there is nothing that can really replace them. When a tooth has been damaged, either by a fracture or by decay, we need a crown to restore and strengthen the tooth.
Here are a few things you can do to protect your teeth from excess wear and tear that could lead to a crown
1. Use care with your food. Hard candy, chewing ice, and popcorn are examples of foods that you should use care with.
2. Don’t clench your teeth. Usually a response to stress, clenching can put significant amounts of stress on your teeth, leading to the need for capped teeth. If you clench your teeth at night, we can help you with a custom nightguard designed for sleeping.
3. Wear a mouthguard. If you or your child plays a sport where there is a chance of being hit in the face, you should consider wearing a mouthguard. As some activities have different risk factors, talk to us about a custom athletic mouthguard.
4. Fix dental issues promptly. Small cracks can become large cracks. Cavities grow in size. The sooner a problem is treated, the smaller and more conservative the treatment will be. Taking care of a minor case of caries early on can prevent a root canal and a crown down the road.
Restore Your Smile
Dental crowns will feel like a normal, healthy tooth and good oral hygiene will help ensure the longevity of your crown. Keep your gums and teeth healthy by brushing with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing daily. Don’t forget to have regular checkups and professional cleanings at your preferred Boise dental practice to keep your mouth in tip-top shape.