We hear a lot about crowns — friends have them, dentists talk about them, sometimes we see people with crowns from different metals, like gold crowns, etc. So what’s the deal with crowns, what purpose do thy serve? We’re here to eliminate the mystery.
A dental crown is basically a “cap” that sits over the surface of a prepped tooth and serves to restore the structure of a tooth, as well as its function and esthetics.
There are two primary reasons you might need to get crowns on your teeth:
1. Cosmetic reasons.
- To Restore the Esthetics of Crooked Teeth — you can cover an unbecoming tooth (for example, a severely discolored tooth) with a porcelain crown.
- To Cover Stained Teeth — tooth stains that won’t go away with professional whitening can be masked with crowns.
2. Functional reasons
- Weakened Teeth — You will need a crown to protect a damaged or weakened tooth. For example, if a tooth cracked, a crown can be used to hold parts of a tooth together.
- Heavily Filled Teeth — If one of your teeth gets a large filling, or has been filled multiple times on different sides, the structure of the tooth will be weakened and may need to be strengthened with a crown.
- Single Tooth Restoration — if you are getting a dental implant to replace a single missing tooth, you will need a crown to be placed over the implant.
- Following Root Canal Treatment — teeth become weak and brittle after a root canal treatment. Therefore, dental crowns are placed over them to restore their strength.
What are temporary and permanent crowns?
- Permanent Crowns — Crowns are normally meant to stay in place for many years. These crowns are normally made in a lab or specialized facility, latest dental equipment is now making it possible to make certain types of crowns in the dental office itself.
- Temporary Crowns — Temporary crowns function like a crown but are not required to last or stay in place. An example is a temporary crown that is put on a tooth for which a permanent crown is being prepared in a lab. Normally steel, aluminum, or composite crowns are applied as temporary crowns. Temporary crowns may be prefabricated or made in the dentist’s office itself.
Dental Crown Materials: Pros & Cons
While temporary crowns are advisably made from low cost materials, normally, steel, permanent crowns will be custom made from a number of expensive materials.
Metallic Crowns —
- Pros: All metal permanent crowns are made to last for a long time.They are typically made from more strong materials such as gold alloys, Cobalt-Chromium and Nickel-Chromium alloys. Metal crowns are thinner in comparison to porcelain crowns less material need be removed from the tooth for fitting the crown. Metal crowns can withstand great chewing forces, and last the longest of all crown types.
- Cons: The main drawback is the metallic color which stands out, in addition to sometimes causing allergic reactions to susceptible individuals. Due to their appearance, if they are used, they are normally used on the rear teeth.
Resin Crowns —
- Pros: Crowns made entirely from resin materials are relatively less expensive than other types. These crowns can be prepared in the laboratory as well as at the chairside at the dentist’s office.
- Cons: The disadvantages of resin crowns are a fast wear-down, and greater liability to fracture.
All ceramic crowns —
- Pros: All-ceramic or all-porcelain crowns are at the high end both in fashion and cost. They have the best natural color match of all other crown types. They are suitable for those who are allergic to metal crowns. Because of their aesthetics, all-ceramic crowns are a popular choice for front teeth. Zirconia Crowns are the dominant type of all porcelain crowns. Modern machinery at the dentist’s office can take impressions of your prepped tooth and create this type of crown while you‘re waiting in the dental chair.
- Cons: They are not as strong as metal crowns. At the same time, they can wear down the opposing teeth a little more than metal or resin crowns.
- Pros: This is a technical merger between porcelain and metal. These crowns retain the aesthetics of the porcelain but have the added strength due to the metal on which porcelain if fused.
- Cons: However, sometimes, porcelain layer can crack or chip off. Also, in some cases, metal under the porcelain may show through as a dark line especially if the gums recede.
What is the procedure of getting a dental crown ?
Getting crowns is a very common procedure, and typically follow the below steps:
- Tooth Preparation- Some material may have to be removed from the tooth to make space for the crown. A temporary crown may be placed in case of all metal and certain other types of crowns which take two visits to install.
- Impressions- tooth impressions after tooth prep will be sent to a lab for crown development to the exact dimensions. Color requirements are specified where applicable.
- Installation of the crown- is done in the second visit, after the dentist makes sure that the aesthetics and fit of the crowns are acceptable. With single day installation, more and more dentists are acquiring machinery which can prepare ceramic crowns within the office.
Dental crowns serve as an excellent option for the restoration of crooked, misshaped or stained teeth. If you have any of these problems, visit your dentist today to discuss which type of crowns are best for you.