If you play checkers, you’ve had the experience of “crowning.” It’s a simple action. When one of your checkers makes it across the board to your opponent’s last row, you smile and say, “king me!” Your opponent must put a checker on top of that one – like a crown – and that checker can then play backward as well as forwards. Giving a checker a new way to play its game is just what a dental crown does for a broken, damaged, or decayed tooth: gives it a second chance! Learn more about this and our other services here.
What is a Dental Crown?
A dental crown is a fixed prosthetic device that is fitted over a damaged or decayed tooth in order to keep the tooth from getting worse. Think of it as working like a baseball cap on a bad hair day. The crown “caps” the damaged tooth and keeps it from being an unsightly blip in your sparkling smile or from enduring more damage — and causing more pain — as you go about your daily living.
You may need a crown if you have a large filling in a tooth that isn’t big enough to hold the filling. Crowns are also used to hide badly shaped or discolored teeth, cover a tooth-replacing dental implant, or attach a bridge to the teeth next to it.
Each crown is custom-fitted to the contours of the tooth it will fix, so it will look, feel, and function as if it were a natural tooth. It will completely cover the entire tooth and it will be fitted into your gum. This tight seal is essential to keeping bacteria from getting under the crown, so the tooth that’s covered cannot sustain any additional damage.
What Are Dental Crowns Made of?
The modern crowns dentists use today owe their existence to Charles Land, who, in 1903, created the first crown made of porcelain and gold. Through the years, crowns have been improved, and now crowns are made of metal, porcelain, resin, or ceramic, or a combination of these materials.
Metal crowns have the longest history, for a number of reasons. The metals used — gold, nickel, copper, etc. — resist corrosion and can withstand the force of biting and chewing, so metal crowns rarely break or chip. They also require removing the least amount of your natural tooth. Metal crowns look like the metal they’re made of, so they are used today mostly for out-of-sight areas.
Metal + Porcelain
Metal-and-porcelain crowns have a metal-based that is covered with porcelain, which can be matched to the color of your natural teeth. Because of the solid metal base, these crowns create a stronger “new tooth” than does an all-porcelain crown. In addition, they are a better crown for preventing additional decay.
Porcelain or Ceramic
For fixing broken or chipped teeth within your smile, crowns made of porcelain or ceramic provide a color match that comes so close to your natural tooth color that only you (and your dentist) will know. The downside is that entirely porcelain or ceramic crowns aren’t quite as strong as metal crowns and may not last as long.
How Long Does a Dental Crown Last?
A crown will last about 10 to 15 years with proper care: brushing and flossing daily and visiting your dentist regularly for a checkup and cleaning. In addition, to maintain the health and strength of a crown:
Avoid hard candies, large nuts, and other crunchy foods that require a strong bite
Avoid sticky foods such as toffee and caramels, and don’t chew gum
Don’t chew ice
What’s Involved in Getting a Dental Crown?
It depends on the crown. Traditional crowns are recommended in certain cases, such as back teeth subject to strong biting and chewing. Getting a traditional crown takes two dental visits. On the first visit, the dentist will clean the tooth of any decay and file it down to make a good foundation for the crown; then a mold of the tooth to be crowned will be made and sent to a dental lab for processing. This usually takes about two weeks, during which time you will have a temporary crown to keep the damaged tooth safe from additional harm. When the crown is ready, your second appointment will involve placing the crown, testing the fit, and securing it with dental cement.
At Lifetime Dental Health, we offer an innovative alternative to a traditional crown, called a CEREC crown. A CEREC (Chairside Economic Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics) crown is also referred to as a one-day crown because you can be measured, prepared, and fitted with a permanent CEREC crown in a single visit. As the name implies, a CEREC crown is made of high-grade ceramic. It’s a durable, long-lasting crown that looks and feels like your natural teeth. And it’s made right here in our office using computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) to replace the mold and the dental lab. Over the 30+ years that dentists have been providing CEREC crowns, they have proven to be as sturdy and durable as crowns from other materials.
CEREC crowns aren’t a solution for every tooth problem. Nevertheless, for most situations where a dental crown is called for, a CEREC crown offers two advantages, speed and precision.
A single dental visit can accommodate the entire crown procedure, from measuring to modeling to the final fitting and installation
The use of an intraoral camera paired with the CAD/CAM process ensures a final creation that provides an exact replica of your damaged tooth
A broken damaged, or decayed tooth can affect your smile as well as how you talk or eat. If you believe you might need a crown, contact us for a free consultation today.
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