Dental crowns are a form of tooth restoration, which are used to bolster teeth that have become damaged as a result of injury or decay. Dental crowns can be used to strengthen teeth that are cracked, badly chipped, or weakened as a result of decay. They are sometimes referred to as caps because they sit over the top of the natural tooth.
Crowns help to make teeth that are damaged or decayed stronger, preventing further weakening of the tooth. Crowns are designed to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible and are colored to match the color of your natural teeth – so much so that you will not be able to tell the difference between the crowned tooth and your natural teeth.
Crowns can be made from porcelain fused with metal, precious metals, or entirely from porcelain. All-porcelain crowns are widely regarded as the best option, as they provide natural, strong and durable results. Crowns are not only a functional solution (making teeth stronger and more resistant to damage and decay), but also can be used to enhance the look of your teeth.
To fit a crown, your dentist will need to clean the affected tooth thoroughly, removing any decayed tissue and reshaping the tooth. A mold is then created of the tooth, which will be used as a template for the new crown. Once the new crown has been manufactured, it will be fixed into place over the top of the existing tooth. You may be advised to have a temporary crown while the permanent crown is being created.
Placement of a dental crown is performed under local anaesthesia, or intravenous sedation if desired, or if multiple dental procedures are being performed.
Who is a candidate?
Candidates for dental crowns typically suffer from one or more of the following dental problems:
Advanced stages of tooth decay
Moderate to severe tooth erosion
A traumatic oral injury
A chipped or cracked tooth
A root canal infection
A misshaped tooth
Difficulty or pain chewing or talking
Severe tooth discoloration or other cosmetic blemishes on the tooth
Candidates should be in good overall health, with sufficiently strong tooth structure for the crown and healthy gums. Patients should have realistic expectations about the outcome and recovery process.
Who is not a candidate?
Patients who do not have sufficiently strong tooth structure should consider other restorative procedures, such as inlays and onlays. For less severe chips and cracks, bonding and veneers may be a better fit.
In preparation for a dental crown, your dentist may ask you to eat a light meal and reduce your fluid intake the night before. If you are receiving nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or intravenous sedation, you will need to stop eating and drinking at least 6 hours in advance. It is also important to brush and floss your teeth before the procedure. You may be using a temporary crown for a time before the permanent crown is placed on your tooth, which may not be as stable or resistant, so take care when eating and drinking.
Disclose all medications you are currently taking to your dentist, as certain medications, such as blood thinners, may interfere with the recovery process. Otherwise, continue taking all medications as prescribed by your physician.
After placement of a dental crown, patients generally will experience numbness in the mouth due to anesthesia. In the first two to three days, you may experience minor tooth sensitivity to hot or cold foods, or when biting down on the affected area. In most patients, any lingering tooth sensitivity is gone within a week of the procedure. If sensitivity persists, you should schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor.
Although risks with dental crowns are low, there are a few known complications arising from crown placement. The tooth surface may be thin or perforated by an instrument, resulting in loss of healthy tooth tissue. Nerve damage, tooth sensitivity, and bite misalignment (leading to temporomandibular joint disorders) are known, but rare. Allergy to the dental crown material is also a possibility. Patients should be tested for this allergy beforehand. As with other surgeries, there is a risk of infection (albeit, a small one) at the dental crown site if the dental crown is not properly sealed or if damaged material is not removed from the tooth site.
If intravenous sedation is chosen over only a local anesthetic, the risk of getting a dental crown increases. Amnesia, oversedation, and temporary problems with breathing are common risks involved with intravenous sedation. However, these are not life threatening and can usually be resolved by the dentist or other healthcare providers at the time of occurrence.
Average US cost
$500-$2,500 (depending on material used)