Your regular dental visits are important for many reasons. The cleanings give your dentist the chance to check to see how your teeth are doing, give them a good polishing, and make sure no further dental work is necessary. One common type of dental work that might be recommended to you is a dental crown. If your dentist tells you that you need dental crowns, it means that one or more of your teeth are in disrepair but not to the point of needing to be pulled. A dental crown (or cap) is permanently placed over the tooth to protect it from further damage. Below, Flintlock Dental will take a closer look at dental crowns to hopefully relieve any anxiety you have over the procedure.
How Do Dental Crowns Work?
When the dentist tells you that you need a dental crown, you’re sure to have a lot of questions, including how they work. A piece of material is crafted into a tooth shape that will fit your bite and installed onto the problem tooth. In order to make it the right shape, a cast of the surrounding teeth will be taken. Before the crown can be placed, the decay has to be removed and the tooth worn down to make enough space. A crown is usually used to completely cover a damaged tooth, but it can also be placed to improve a tooth’s appearance, shape, or alignment, or give an implant a more tooth-like shape.
There are several options available when it comes to installing dental crowns. If the tooth that needs the crown is visible when you smile, the crown should be made of porcelain or ceramic to best match the color of your other teeth. If a molar requires a crown, it’s often made of metal alloy, which is a stronger material that’s able to hold up to the wear and tear of chewing. Sometimes ceramic is adhered to a metal alloy to give the crown both a great appearance and strength. You can discuss the different types of dental crowns further with your dentist to determine which is best for your situation.
Reasons for Dental Crowns
There are several reasons why your dentist might suggest installing a dental crown, including:
- To replace a large filling when not enough healthy tooth remains.
- To restore a fractured tooth.
- To protect a weak tooth from fracturing.
- To cover a tooth that has had a root canal.
- To cover a dental implant.
- To cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth.
- To fix a tooth’s alignment.
How are Dental Crowns Placed?
Once it has been decided that you need a dental crown, the next step is getting the teeth ready for it to be placed. There are a few steps that need to be done to place a dental crown:
Prepare the Tooth - Your dentist must go in and remove some of the tooth’s enamel, so that the crown will fit. Any decay is also removed at this point, so that the tooth doesn’t continue to rot underneath the crown. If more support is needed for the structure of the tooth, your dentist might instead need to build up the core of the tooth.
Make an Impression - Once the teeth have been prepared, an impression is made to provide an exact model for the crown.
Place a Temporary Crown - While your permanent crown is being made, your dentist will place a temporary crown over the tooth. This is usually in place for less than two weeks to protect the area after it has been prepared. Your tooth might be sensitive during this time, so avoid eating anything very hot, cold, or sticky.
Place a Permanent Crown - Once the technicians have made your permanent crown, you will go in and have it placed over your prepared tooth. The dentist will attach it and make any necessary adjustments. Once you and your dentist are happy with the placement and feel of the crown, it will be cemented into place.
Caring for Dental Crowns
Once dental crowns have been installed, there are a few things to do to ensure that no damage is done to them:
- Brush your teeth twice a day and floss regularly. This keeps plaque and germs off of your teeth and gums and lessens the chance that trouble will spread under the crown.
- Avoid chewing on very hard foods, ice, or other tough objects (like pens). This is especially important for porcelain or ceramic crowns.
- Be sure to keep up with your regular dental appointments, so that the crowns can be monitored. Your dentist can determine if more work or adjustments are needed.
- Check with your dentist if you feel any changes or pain around your dental crowns.
With regular oral care, it’s not too hard to keep your teeth and dental crowns in good shape. Make sure you go to your check-ups and always follow your dentist’s directions for good oral health.
When determining whether or not you need dental crowns, your dentist will probably need to take some dental x-rays. The good news is, modern digital x-rays produce very little radiation, so there’s no reason to worry about the procedure. Learn more about dental x-rays here!