A dental crown, also known as a cap, is a permanent covering for a tooth. It can be made from metal, porcelain, or a combination of the two. While metal is the strongest, porcelain looks the nicest and that is why people generally opt to have the two materials combined. Regardless of the material, crowns should be handcrafted outside of the dental office by a skilled professional and made to fit your exact bite. This is important so that food and bacteria do not get trapped and cause you additional problems.
While it can be considered cosmetic dentistry, more often than not, your dentist will recommend a crown in order to try and save a damaged tooth. This is usually done if a tooth is broken or has a very large or very old filling. Dental crowns are also recommended to either anchor a bridge or protect a tooth that had a root canal.
You will need to see the dentist twice in order to get a crown. During the first visit, your dentist will take X-rays in order to check the roots of the tooth receiving the crown, as well as the surrounding bone. He or she will then numb the tooth in order to file it down along the chewing surface and sides. This is done in order to make room for the crown. The amount of tooth removed depends on the type of crown your dentist chooses to use. However, if you have a large area of a tooth that is missing, your dentist will not file the tooth. Instead, he or she will use a filling material in order to build up the tooth so that it can support the crown.
Once those steps are complete, he or she will either use a paste or putty or a digital scanner to make an impression of both the tooth receiving the crown, as well as the teeth above or below it. This is done so that the crown does not affect your bite. The impression of your teeth will then be sent to the lab that will create it. Your dentist will also put in a temporary crown in order to cover and protect the prepared tooth while the crown is being made. Temporary crowns are generally made of acrylic and are held in place using temporary cement.
It should take about two or three weeks for the crown to come in. Then, your cosmetic dentist will remove the temporary one and check the fit and color of the permanent crown. If everything is correct, the tooth will be numbed and the new crown will be permanently cemented into place.
Permanent crowns should be brushed and flossed like your regular teeth. However, while you have temporary crowns in your mouth, it is best to avoid sticky and hard foods, as both can dislodge the temporary crown. In addition, you need to be extra cautious when you floss with a temporary crown so that you do not accidently pull it out.