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Your comprehensive guide to dental crowns

29 July 2022by Shiv

Teeth are pearls which form an integral part of your appearance. They play a pivotal role in making you more attractive and hence, need special attention and care.


What is a dental crown?

“Crown, ” as the name indicates, is something that is placed on the top of another. If you are wondering what does a dental crown look like? Dental crown is a small cap-like prosthesis placed over your tooth to cover it and protect it from any damage that may occur due to exposure to food and enzymes present in the mouth. It also helps in retaining the contour of your teeth in cases of treatments like a root canal treatment where a hollow cavity is created in your tooth to clear the infection. Besides providing strength and shape to your tooth, dental crowns also help in the better functioning of your tooth. They cover the whole or partial visible portion of the tooth above the gums.


What are crowns made of?

Different types of dental crowns can be made of various types of materials. The most commonly used are porcelain bonded crowns and metal crowns. Stainless steel crowns are temporary crowns and mostly used in children because they fall off automatically with the milk tooth.  Metal dental crowns are made of alloys and fused with precious metals such as gold and platinum. Gold dental crowns, and Zirconia dental crowns are commonly used. These are rigid and highly durable. The only disadvantage is that they are cosmetically unappealing, and the metallic glint is visible when you talk. This drawback can be corrected with more advanced dental crown materials such as ceramic crowns, porcelain crowns, or composite resin crowns. 


When do you need crowns? 

Dental crowns can be used in both children and adults, but there are different indications for each age group. 

For adults:

  1. Weak and fragile teeth that are prone to fracture and require a protective cover in the form of crowns. A tooth may become weak due to underlying causes like infection, or due to trauma. A crown can protect the damaged tooth and also protect it from further damage.


 2. A broken tooth or an entirely damaged tooth that needs a structural replacement so that the essential functions can be performed.


 3. A previously treated tooth that has been filled with filling material, requires protection. The most common example in this scenario is a root canal treatment, where a large access cavity is created to clear the tooth of infection. This cavity is filled with gutta-percha and a filling material, and a crown is put over it to prevent the tooth from fracturing.


 4. To support dental bridges in cases where the natural tooth is not strong enough to support it. Dental bridges are prostheses that are used to replenish the missing teeth, and they are held in place by adhering them to adjacent teeth.


  5. Cosmetic issues can also be tackled with the help of dental crowns. If your teeth are stained or discoloured due to any reason, a ceramic or porcelain crown that matches your teeth’ natural colour can be used to conceal these flaws.


  6. If you have a dental implant, a crown can be used as the cover of the implant, which will help in the restoration of the function by acting as an artificial tooth. This is known as a dental crown implant. 


For children:


  1. A decayed tooth that is damaged to the extent where it can’t be saved by filling. A temporary crown made up mostly of stainless steel is put over the teeth of these children, and the crown falls off along with the primary tooth.


  2. Children who have difficulty brushing and maintaining oral hygiene are at a high risk of developing tooth  decay. A crown can protect the teeth of these children until they can resume standard oral hygiene practices.


What should you expect in terms of the procedure?

A dental crown procedure will require two visits to your dentist.


Tooth preparation: Your dentist will first do a comprehensive evaluation of your oral cavity and perform an x-ray to identify the disease’s extent. Then, the tooth’s outer cover is removed, and any infection present in the tooth is also cleared.

Taking the impression: A digital scam impression of your teeth is taken to prepare the customised crown for you. 

Temporary crown: As your tooth has been treated, a temporary dental crown is placed till your permanent crown is prepared. This takes approximately two weeks.  It would be best if you took extra precautions until you have a permanent crown.

Permanent crown: After 2-3 weeks, when your crown is ready, your dentist will finally place it over your tooth with a dental crown cement/glue and do any necessary adjustments.

You may experience mild pain after the dental crown is installed. 


What are Onlays?

Onlays are the 3/4th crowns that do not cover the entire visible portion of your tooth. It covers your tooth only partially, i.e., 3/4th part of your tooth. If your tooth is otherwise healthy and structurally well oriented, your dentist will recommend an onlay and not a full dental crown.


How to take care of your crowned teeth?

A dental crown does not explicitly require any special care. You have to keep in mind that crown is just a covering and not an impenetrable shield that can protect your teeth from decay even if you don’t take your oral hygiene seriously. You have to clean your teeth, especially the area around the crown, to ensure that your tooth doesn’t catch any infection. In the process, you are first given temporary crowns till the time your permanent custom made crown is prepared. While you have these temporary crowns on, you should additionally take a few precautions such as- avoid any sticky food item which may get stuck in the crown, avoid eating any hard food items, brush and floss your teeth cautiously as it may otherwise cause a loose dental crown. 


How long does a dental crown last?

The longevity of any material depends on the way you care for it. The average duration is anywhere from 5-25 years, after which you will need dental crown replacement. The durability is inversely proportional to the wear and tear of the crown. If you are negligent towards your oral hygiene and careless while eating, your crown may last for shorter periods. People with a habit of grinding teeth (Bruxism), chewing fingernails, using teeth to tear off wrappers, will also have to get their crown changed more frequently. A broken dental crown needs immediate care and you should visit your dentist at the earliest possible. 


If you are worried about your teeth and want an expert opinion, visit Conway House Dental Practice in High Wycombe. You can avail the best dental crown materials here as well as the alternatives to dental crowns. We are a team of professional dentists who can tackle every dental issue with expertise. Call us today and book an appointment with us..


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