A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth. The cap restores the tooth’s shape and size, strength, and appearance.
The crowns, when cemented into place, cover the visible portion of a tooth.
When would a dental crown be needed?
A dental crown may be needed to:
- Protect a weak tooth (for example, from decay) from breaking or holding together parts of a cracked tooth
- Restore a broken tooth or a severely worn down tooth
- Cover and support a tooth with a large filling and not much tooth remaining
- Hold a dental bridge in place
- Cover misshaped or severely discolored teeth
- Cover a dental implant
- Cover a tooth treated with a root canal
What steps are involved in preparing a tooth for a crown?
Two visits to the dentist are usually needed. At the first visit, the tooth to receive the crown is examined and prepared. X-rays are taken of the tooth and bone around it. If decay is found or there is a risk of infection or injury to the tooth’s pulp, a root canal treatment may need to be done first. (Pulp is the soft tissue inside your teeth containing blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.)To make room for the crown, the tooth to receive it is shaped down across the top and sides. All-metal crowns are thinner and don’t need as much tooth structure removed compared with all-porcelain or porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. If too much tooth is missing, due to damage or decay, a filling material is used to “build up” enough tooth structure for the crown to cover. After reshaping the tooth, an impression of the tooth that will be receiving the crow is taken. Impressions of the teeth above or below the tooth to receive the dental crown are also made. This is done to make sure that the crown will fit your bite. The impressions are sent to a dental laboratory. The laboratory makes the crowns and usually returns them to the dentist’s office in 2 to 3 weeks. During this first office visit your dentist will make a temporary crown to cover and protect the prepared tooth while the permanent crown is being made. On the second visit, the permanent crown is placed. First, the temporary crown is removed and the fit and color of the permanent crown are checked. The crown is then adjusted and cemented in place.