You may need a dental crown if you have:
• An injured, broken or weakened tooth
• A tooth with one or more cracks in it
• An old tooth filling that has worn away
• Concerns about the appearance of one of your teeth
• A tooth that was repaired many years ago and needs to be repaired again
• A tooth that has had root canal treatment
What are crowns made of?
There are several different types of crowns including:
• Porcelain (ceramic)
• A combination of the other two, called porcelain fused to metal (PFM)
Metal crowns may appear silver or gold, but they are actually made of a combination of metals (alloys) to make them as strong as possible. In fact, some people choose metal crowns because they are the strongest of all three types. When cared for properly, metal crowns can last for decades.
Porcelain crowns can be designed to look almost identical to the tooth it will cover when the tooth was in a healthier state. Techniques are used to color the crown so that it blends in seamlessly with the surrounding teeth. While not as strong as metal crowns, porcelain crowns are also a great option and can last for many years when well cared for.
PFM crowns combine the strength of metal with the appearance of porcelain. Special care is taken when attaching the porcelain top of the crown to the metal base—all of which will slide over the top of the injured tooth. Like the other two types, PFM crowns can last for many years with proper care.
What can I expect when having a crown installed?
Creating and placing a dental crown takes time—most crowns require two separate appointments to complete. During the first appointment, the tooth is prepared to have the crown placed and then a mold of the tooth is taken. The mold is then used to make the crown.
A variety of techniques can be used to prepare (shape) the existent tooth, but most start with numbing up the area to keep the procedure as painless as possible. Once the numbing medicine has taken effect, special tools are used to isolate the tooth being worked on, making sure the surrounding teeth and gums are protected. Several layers are then removed from the top and sides of the damaged tooth, preparing it to receive the new crown. After the tooth is re-shaped and small enough to slide the permanent crown on during the next appointment, a temporary crown is inserted to prevent problems with tooth sensitivity.
At your next appointment, the permanent crown will be secured to your tooth with a special adhesive. If needed, small adjustments to the crown shape or size can be done at the time of fitting. Although rare, if there are any concerns over the fit of the crown, another appointment may be needed.
What can I expect after my appointments?
It is normal to have a mild amount of discomfort after your first appointment when your tooth is prepared to receive the crown. This can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medicine and should not last more than a few days. Most people will have minimal to no pain after having the permanent crown fitted.
How do I know if there is a problem with my crown?
After the first few days of getting used to the feeling of the new crown in your mouth, you should not be able to tell it is even there. Although rare, problems with crowns can happen on occasion. Contact your dentist right away if you experience:
• A crown that causes pain in the nearby gums or teeth
• A crown that changes how your teeth come together or alters your chewing. Jaw pain or headaches may be a sign of this.
• A porcelain or PFM crown that appears very different from your other teeth
• A crown that appears cracked, loose, or falls out