There are many ways to restore or fix a tooth that’s been damaged. Dental fillings are excellent at fixing small cavities or other minor tooth issues. If more significant issues are present than a dental crown may be recommended. Depending on the situation presented by the patient, often, dentists try to follow the 40% rule. If a filling will be less than 40% of the visible tooth in the mouth, then a dental filling is the correct choice. If decay is detected or a previous filling is no longer doing its job and a new filling will be bigger than 40% of the visible tooth surface in the mouth, a dental crown will be recommended. Dental crowns replace the outer surface of the tooth and are made out of esthetic porcelain to restore the strength and function to a tooth. Dental crowns also help direct force evenly down the tooth during use which can help with preventing future cracks or fractures.
In this guide to dental crowns, we’ll walk you through what a crown is, when you might need one, and what you can expect when getting one.
What Is a Dental Crown?
A dental crown looks and feels like a real tooth. It’s a cap that’s set over the top of an existing tooth or dental implant. A dental crown does more than restore the appearance of a tooth — it also restores the tooth’s function. With a crown in place, a person can speak, chew, and eat just like they did when they had their natural tooth.
When Do You Need a Dental Crown?
There are several benefits of using a dental crown and several instances when it makes sense for a dentist to place one in a patient’s mouth. Some examples of times when you might need a dental crown include:
- When a tooth is very decayed: Although a dentist might use a filling to fix a small cavity, if a tooth has a lot of decay or large cavities, a filling might not be adequate. A dental crown can be a suitable option in cases of extensive decay, as the restoration can provide support to the tooth.
- When a tooth is chipped, cracked, or otherwise damaged: Although enamel is strong and one of the hardest substances in the body, teeth can still break or chip. A crown can restore the appearance of a chipped or cracked tooth or can help hold a broken tooth together.
- After a root canal: A root canal procedure is often performed to save an infected tooth. While the root canal itself focuses on the interior of the tooth, after the procedure, it’s common for a dentist to restore the appearance of a tooth by placing a crown on it.
- On top of a dental implant: Dental implants replace and restore missing teeth and can help to prevent bone loss in the mouth. The implant itself is what goes into the gums and bone of the jaw, while the crown is what goes on the top, creating a replacement tooth that looks as good as, if not better, than the real thing.
- When a tooth or teeth are misshapen: Although there are many medical reasons to get a dental crown, it’s also possible to have dental crowns placed for cosmetic reasons. If your teeth are small, have wide spaces between them, or you are otherwise unhappy with their appearance, you can talk to your dentist about the benefits of dental crowns to cover your natural teeth.
Advantages of Dental Crowns
Dental crowns offer several benefits to patients. From a cosmetic standpoint, they help restore or improve the appearance of your teeth. If you previously felt self-conscious about smiling or letting people see your teeth, getting a dental crown can help you feel more confident.
Another benefit of dental crowns is that they strengthen the teeth and can help improve the function of your mouth. When a tooth has an extensive amount of decay, it becomes difficult to chew food and challenging to eat or drink. If a tooth is missing, it can be difficult to speak. Replacing damaged teeth with a crown or using a crown to restore severely decayed teeth can be a good option.
Types of Dental Crowns
Several types of dental crowns are available. Each option has its advantages and drawbacks, and patients should consider the pros and cons carefully when deciding which type of crown is right for them. Your dentist can also provide guidance and advice to help you choose the right crown. Dental crown options include:
- Stainless steel: Stainless steel crowns are usually used as a temporary crown, meant to stay in place until a person’s custom-fit crown arrives from the lab. If a child who still has their primary teeth needs a crown, a dentist will often place a stainless steel one. When the child loses the primary tooth, the crown comes out, too.
- Acrylic: Acrylic is another option often used for temporary crowns.
- Gold: There are several benefits of gold dental crowns, namely that they are very strong and durable. A drawback of a gold or metal crown is that it is usually the color of the metal and does not look like a natural tooth. For that reason, gold crowns are usually used to replace molars or other back teeth.
- Porcelain: Porcelain crowns look like natural teeth and also happen to be very strong and long-lasting. If a person has a metal allergy or needs a crown on a front tooth, a porcelain one might be a good choice.
- Porcelain fused to metal: While all-porcelain crowns are strong, porcelain fused to metal versions are even stronger. In some cases, the metal can show through the porcelain, giving the crown a darker look.
- Resin: Resin dental crowns tend to be the most affordable option. The trade-off is that they usually have the shortest life, so you might need to replace a resin crown sooner than a porcelain or metal one.
- Ceramic: Ceramic crowns are similar to porcelain crowns in many ways. They look like natural teeth and are strong and long-lasting. They aren’t quite as strong as metal crowns, though.
What to Expect During a Dental Crown Procedure
If you decide that a dental crown is right for you, the procedure is usually a two-step process. During the first appointment, your dentist will take a mold or model of the existing tooth, which will be used to create the crown itself.
After taking a mold of the tooth, your dentist will prepare it for the new crown. They might perform a root canal procedure, if necessary, to remove infected pulp or tooth decay. Once the issue is corrected, the dentist will file down the remaining tooth, removing material from the sides and the top. Filing the tooth is a necessary step to make room for the dental crown. In some cases, a dentist might need to build the existing tooth back up, such as if there is an extensive amount of decay.
After the tooth has been shaped, the dentist will take an impression of it, which gets sent to the lab. The lab that creates the crown will use the impression to make sure that the crown fits and that it doesn’t affect your bite.
Before you return home, your dentist will usually make and place a temporary crown, which will cover the tooth until your permanent crown is ready.
The second part of the dental crown procedure involves placing the permanent crown on the tooth. Before placing the crown, your dentist will numb the area. They’ll then remove the temporary crown and check to make sure the permanent crown matches your other teeth and fits on top of the tooth. If everything is acceptable, the dentist will then cement the crown in place. You’ll be given instructions on how to care for your crown to help prolong its life.
Same-day crowns are also available, which eliminates the need for a second visit to the dentist.
AZ Family Dental Can Help You Get a Perfect Smile
Whether you have a badly decayed tooth or are just not happy with the way one or more of your teeth look, dental crowns can help. The dentists at AZ Family Dental offer dental crowns, along with implant dentistry, root canal therapy, and other restorative procedures. To make the process even easier on you, we now offer same-day crowns. Learn more about our services and how we can help you get a smile you’ll love by contacting us today.