Female white toothy smile

Crowns

 

What are crowns?

Crowns are made in a laboratory and they cover the entire exposed surface of a tooth. Crowns are cemented onto existing teeth or implants, and can only be removed by a dentist.

 

How do crowns work?

A crown is used to entirely cover or "cap" a damaged tooth (in some cases where part of the tooth structure is undamaged, a partial crown may be used). Besides providing strength and support, a crown can be used to improve the tooth’s appearance, shape or alignment. A crown can also be placed on top of an implant, providing a tooth-like shape and structure for function.

 

Your dentist may recommend a crown to:

  • Replace a large filling when there isn't enough tooth remaining

  • Protect a weak tooth from fracturing

  • Restore a fractured tooth

  • Cover a dental implant

  • Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth

  • Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment

 

What types of crown are there?

Crowns can be made out of a variety of materials, including porcelain, ceramic, metal or gold. Porcelain or ceramic can be matched to the color of your natural teeth. Ceramic crowns are extremely tough and aesthetically pleasing. Metal crowns can be thin and therefore retain more tooth structure. Porcelain bonded to a metal shell is often used because it is both strong and aesthetically pleasing.

Advantages of crowns 

  • Cosmetic – Can improve the look of broken, cracked, misshapen, missing or severely discolored teeth.

  • Natural looking – Porcelain and ceramic crowns resemble the look of natural teeth. Patients can restore their damaged teeth and give the illusion of always having a healthy, bright smile.

  • Stain resistant – Dental crowns are made from stain resistant porcelain, making this a superior choice for dental prosthetics.

  • Durable – Should last between five to fifteen years, sometimes longer, based on excellent oral hygiene.

  • Restorative – Due to their natural tooth-like features, full function of your missing or damaged tooth can be restored. Crowns can help to restore your ability to speak and chew.

  • Protection – When used to cover damaged or decayed teeth, crowns also serve to protect the tooth from further decay; however good oral hygiene must still be maintained.

Disadvantages of crowns

  • Destructive – Crown preparation can be quite damaging to the tooth as it involves drilling part of it away. However if the tooth has already been heavily damaged or has multiple fillings a crown can also be protective to the tooth. Careful consideration of this is needed in treatment planning.

  • Damaged nerves – When a tooth is prepared for a full crown, 1% to 15% lose vitality (i.e. the nerve dies) and may require future root canal treatment.

  • Difficulty cleaning – Some extra care is necessary to keep the base of the crown clean, as it is prone to collecting plaque. Your dentist will advise you on the best way to care for your crown.

 

How is a crown made?

You will normally require a local anaesthetic to numb the tooth and surrounding gum. Your dentist will prepare the tooth involved by drilling it into a slightly conical shape. Some impressions will then be taken by placing some soft material into your mouth; it will then go hard, leaving an impression of the shape of the teeth. You will be fitted with a temporary crown, usually made out of a plastic-like material. The impressions are sent off to the laboratory where the crown is made. Two weeks later, you will attend the practice again to have the temporary crown removed and the new crown cemented (or ‘glued’) in place. Local anaesthetic is sometimes required. We will check that the fit and the way your teeth bite together is comfortable and that you are happy with the appearance.