What Are Dental Crowns and Why Would I Need Them?

A dental crown is essentially a cap used to cover weak, decayed or broken teeth.

In most cases, if you have a tooth that is decayed to the point of weakening or breaking, a dental crown is likely an option to restore strength to the tooth. Dental crowns are affixed to the affected tooth with a hardening material that not only keeps the crown in place, but also protects the tooth down to the gum line.

So what is involved with getting a crown?

X-rays are generally performed to determine the condition of the tooth in question. It is not only essential to evaluate the tooth above the gum line, but to also the underlying root and bone structure. It is important to make sure you are not at risk for any complication, such as infection.

Your dentist will use a local anaesthetic to numb the area of the affected tooth before filing the tooth down to prep it for the crown. If your tooth is too far decayed or broken down, the dentist may use a filler treatment to increase the tooth’s surface area so the crown may be securely applied. After the tooth is prepped, a cast is taken so the crown may be moulded to fit. It is not uncommon for there to be a period of a few days to a couple weeks before the crown is applied as dental crowns don’t come in one-size-fits-all and must be individually crafted. So, in the mean time, your dentist will apply a temporary crown to protect the tooth until the permanent one is in place.

The actual application of a crown isn’t nearly as involved as the initial prepping and fitting. Once again, a local anaesthetic will be applied to the area. Your dentist will use a cement-like material to affix the crown to the tooth.

Today, dental crowns are made from a variety of materials, from synthetic resin and ceramic to metal and porcelain. The type of crown you choose is entirely dependent on your preference and budget. Generally speaking, a dental crown can last up to 15 years. It all depends on how you take care of it.

Crowns don’t deter the natural course of decay or prevent gum disease if proper hygiene isn’t practiced. Other than regular flossing and brushing, it’s recommended you shy away from foods and candies that can grab hold of the crown and potentially pull it off. Yes, it is affixed with a hardened resin, but that doesn’t mean the live tooth underneath can’t be jostled and dislodged. On the flip side, hard candies and foods should also be avoided so you don’t break or crack the crown.