Dental Crowns Used for a Variety of Dental Problems

By: Patricia Woloch

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cover placed over a tooth that is damaged or decayed. Crowns, often called "caps," are made to look exactly like your natural teeth. There are many reasons why people see their cosmetic dentist to get crowns, but generally the tooth has been damaged quite extensively, and filling material cannot replace the missing tooth structure to make the tooth strong enough. Crowns are placed to hold together parts of a broken tooth and can also be used to hold a bridge in place. Teeth that are misshapen and badly discolored can also be fixed with the application of porcelain crowns.

What They're Made Of

Some crowns are prefabricated; prefabricated crowns can be used as a temporary restoration until a permanent crown is custom made for you. Crowns can be all metal, porcelain fused to metal (PFM), or all ceramic. The metals used in making crowns are gold alloy, other alloys such as palladium or a base-metal alloy such as nickel or chromium. The all metal and PFM crowns are the strongest and are typically used for back teeth.

The Procedure to Place a Crown

Teeth requiring crowns are often damaged and decayed to some degree, and root canal treatment (endodontics) is sometimes necessary before the crown is placed on the tooth. However, not everyone who needs a crown will also need a root canal. To put a crown in place, your cosmetic dentist must reshape the tooth to make room for it. After reshaping the tooth, he will use a piece of thread or cord to push the gum down around the tooth and then make an impression of the tooth. The impression material is removed after several minutes. The impressions are sent to the lab and the crown is made.

While the crown is being manufactured, you will receive a temporary crown usually made of plastic and made right in the office on the day of your visit. At your next visit, the temporary crown will be removed and the permanent crown will be tested. Once the crown is ready, it is cemented to your tooth.

Simple and Fast

Having a crown placed is a fairly simple procedure that typically does not cause any post-procedure discomfort or sensitivity. If you do notice pain or sensitivity when you bite down, you should call your dentist as this usually means the crown is too high on the tooth and can be easily fixed.

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