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Dental crowns allow dentists to protect and restore damaged teeth. Typically, when tooth decay is severe enough that it can’t be treated with a filling, a dental crown will be used to cover, or cap, the tooth. Crowns are also commonly used to seal teeth that have been treated with root canal therapy. And occasionally, dental crowns are used for cosmetic purposes or in smile makeovers.
Dental crowns are also referred to as “caps” because they cap the existing tooth structure in order to restore it.
To begin, your mouth must be cleaned and numbed to prepare for the removal of decayed and damaged enamel. If available and appropriate for your procedure, your dentist may also provide you with sedation.
After your mouth is completely numb and has been thoroughly cleaned, your dentist will use a dental drill to remove decayed enamel and reshape your tooth in preparation for your crown placement.
Once your tooth has been trimmed and prepared for a crown, your dentist will use dental putty and trays or a 3D scanner to take impressions or scans of your teeth, which will be used to build your permanent crown.
In addition to impressions or scans, your dentist will take pictures of your teeth to ensure that your crown matches your existing teeth perfectly. Thanks to color matching, your porcelain crown will look just like a natural tooth.
After the impressions, scans, and images of your teeth are taken, your dentist will send this information to a dental lab where your crown will be built from durable porcelain ceramic. This process takes a few weeks, but lab-made crowns typically are the most long-lasting and comfortable type of dental crown.
Because your crown won’t be ready for a few weeks, your dentist will attach a temporary resin crown to protect your newly-trimmed tooth until your permanent crown can be placed.
After your crown arrives at your dentist’s office, you’ll come back for your fitting and placement appointment. Your dentist will examine the crown to make sure it fits comfortably. Minor adjustments can be made at this time.
After final adjustments, your dentist will use a powerful dental cement to bond your crown into place permanently, restoring your smile and your bite.
Lab-made crowns are manufactured by experienced technicians at dental labs that specialize in building dental prostheses. Your dentist will take impressions, scans, and photos of your teeth, which will be sent directly to the lab.
Using an advanced manufacturing process, your crowns will be built out of durable ceramic and metal materials, and sent back to your dentist for the final fitting and placement. Lab-made crowns look and feel very natural, and are usually the most long-lasting and durable type of crown.
Same-day crowns are made with advanced CAD/CAM (Computer-Aided Design/Manufacturing) technology. In-office milling units are used to craft crowns out of ceramic or porcelain blocks.
First, your dentist will scan your mouth with a handheld digital scanner. The scanner will upload a 3D image of your mouth onto a computer. Your dentist will design your crown using this computerized image, and upload the design to the milling unit. The porcelain or ceramic block is loaded into this machine, and it begins to cut the block into a crown.
In a few minutes, your crown will be complete. Your dentist will check that it fits comfortably and that your bite feels natural. After any necessary adjustments, it will be attached permanently. This entire process usually takes only a single 1-2 hour appointment.
Stainless steel crowns are typically used to restore baby or primary teeth in children.
Most commonly, dental crowns are used to protect and restore teeth that have been damaged by a serious cavity, or that have been cracked or broken by dental trauma, like an accident or injury. Because crowns cover up and protect your entire tooth structure, they are ideal for preventing further complications and restoring the shape, appearance, and function of damaged teeth.
Dental crowns are also used to cover up and protect teeth after root canal treatment. In more rare cases, they may also be used for cosmetic dentistry if other treatments like veneers and dental bonding are not appropriate.
If you have a damaged or severely decayed tooth, you may need a dental crown. You should see your dentist if you are experiencing tooth pain and discomfort, or if your teeth are visibly damaged or discolored. Depending on the cause of your dental issues, they may recommend a dental crown or another restorative treatment.
A well-made and properly placed dental crown will typically last up to 15 years. It’s critical to maintain good oral health habits to enhance your crown’s longevity. These practices include brushing twice per day, flossing once per day, and seeing your dentist every 6 months for a professional cleaning and exam. Same-day crowns can be a little less durable, but they can still last several years with proper care.
You can treat your dental crown just like a natural tooth. Make sure you brush twice a day for at least two minutes, ensuring you scrub the full surface of every tooth. You should floss at least once per day, preferably at night. This should only take a few minutes, but be sure to floss against the tooth and below the gum line. You should also see your dentist every six months for a check-up to make sure that your dental work and teeth are healthy.
Dental crowns that are required for restorative purposes, such as severe cavities or a broken tooth, are typically covered by insurance. The exact amount of coverage you receive will depend on the deductible and yearly limits of your policy.
If you require a crown for cosmetic purposes, such as covering up a discolored tooth, the procedure may not be covered by insurance. To make sure your procedure is covered, we recommend consulting with your insurer.
When properly placed and with good oral hygiene habits, dental crowns can last up to 15 years.