A crown is a replacement “cap” on the tooth that is permanently fixed on a tooth to restore it’s natural shape and size.
Crowns are generally needed to strengthen and improve the appearance of a tooth. It is necessary when a tooth has broken down due to the following reasons.
- After root canal treatment to protect brittle teeth from fracture
- To mask discoloured or very misshaped teeth
- When there is a crackline so the crown can hold the tooth together
- To reinforce a large filling which cannot withstand occlusal forces without fracturing
A crown procedure usually requires a couple of visits.
The first stage involvess an examination and assessment of the tooth structure and colour. In order to assess if a tooth is suitable for a crown, sometimes the existing filling may have to be removed and replaced with a new filling. X-rays will have to be taken to aid in the overall assessment.
Local anaesthetic (an injection) will have to be used if the tooth is not root canal treated. Some numbing cream will be placed on your gums before you have an injection. You will feel numb which is a sensation of feeling ‘fat’ in that area.
The second stage requires the tooth to be reshaped to specific dimensions. An impression of your teeth will be then taken. Some material will be squirted on your tooth and you will have to bite on material that feels similar to Playdough in a tray for a few minutes. The dentist will construct a temporary crown for you. This will be placed on your tooth with temporary cement. The impression will be sent to a dental laboratory where the dental crown is fabricated. Some sensitivity may be experienced if the tooth is not root canal treated. As the crown is only temporary, extra care must be taken during eating, brushing and flossing.
At the final stage, the temporary crown will be removed. The tooth is cleaned and the dental crown will be fitted in and checked. Some minor adjustments of the bite may be necessary. A small X-ray may be taken. If satisfactory, this crown will be cemented in place with extremely strong cement.
Good oral hygiene and regular check-ups are required to maintain the longevity of a crown. Habits such as grinding or chewing hard food or other objects can damage or fracture your crown.
The difference between a crown and a veneer is how much tooth it covers.
Crowns tend to encase the entire tooth, whereas veneers only cover the front surface. Veneers tend to be used for aesthetic reasons, as it offers minimal protection. Veneers tend to be placed on teeth whose underlying tooth structure is healthy and strong.