A crown, or a 'cap' as it is often called, is a restorative treatment to strengthen, repair and improve the appearance of an existing tooth. Their hardwearing and cosmetic properties mean they will remain strong and stable for many years if cared for properly.
There are a number of reasons a crown could be used, which include repairing teeth that have been broken or have been weakened by decay or a large filling, improving the appearance of a tooth that may have a discoloured filling, protecting a tooth after a root filling or to help hold a bridge or denture firmly in place.
If you are being fitted with a crown, your dentist will prepare your teeth to the ideal shape, which involves removing a layer of the outer surface of the tooth. An impression of the tooth will then be sent to a specialist laboratory where the crown will be expertly manufactured to fit the size and colour of your existing teeth. A temporary crown will be fitted in the meantime so to avoid being without a tooth.
On your final visit, the crown will be precisely fitted over the top of the tooth and held in place with specialist dental cement.
Crowns can be made of porcelain or porcelain bonded to metal.
These crowns are made entirely out of porcelain.
They look very natural.
Porcelain bonded to metal
These consist of a metal base and then porcelain is applied in layers over it.
Your dentist will give you a local anaesthetic to numb the tooth and prepare it for the new crown. Once prepared, a mould of your tooth is taken in a putty-like material so that the dental technician can make a crown that fits the tooth perfectly. It may take one or two weeks for the crown to be ready, so your dentist will fit a temporary one. At the second appointment, your dentist will take off the temporary crown and fix the new one permanently in place.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is a dental crown expected to last?
Contrary to popular belief, dental crowns don't last forever. But with good care they can last a long time! Current research shows that more than 90% of crowns will not require major treatment within five years, and 50 to 80% of crowns will last between 15 and 20 years.4 It's important to remember that just like a "real" tooth, the life of your crown depends on how you care for it. You should continue to follow good dental hygiene practices including brushing twice a day, flossing, and seeing your dentist on a regular basis. If you tend to clench or grind your teeth, ask your dentist how this could affect your crown. In general, you should try to avoid chewing hard or sticky foods, which may cause your crown to break or come loose.
Why might I need a dental crown?
There are different reasons why your dentist may recommend a crown for one of your teeth. Sometimes a crown is placed over a tooth that has had a root canal, or one that has had a large filling, to help keep the tooth strong for biting and chewing. Crowns can also be used to hold a dental bridge in place or to cover a dental implant. A dentist may also recommend a crown to protect a weak or discolored tooth or to cover a broken one.