Dental crowns are tooth-shaped caps which are used to restore the shape, size, strength and appearance of your cracked or decayed teeth. These materials encase the visible part of your teeth (or tooth) which lies above the line of gums. These are also simply referred to as “caps” and play a vital role in preserving the functionality of your damaged teeth. This damage may be due to cracking of a tooth or excessive decay. New dental crowns are also employed for replacing any pre-existing old crown.
Your dentist will give you an option of dental crowns only if the damage or decay of any of the teeth is so extensive that direct composite bonding, veneers or any other conservative treatments do not seem to be viable treatment options. In case you recently underwent root canal therapy, you may also be consulted about dental crowns. Depending on the crown material, these crowns would be fabricated in your dentist’s office or in the dental laboratories. Your dentist may take impressions of existing teeth (or tooth) as a template for designing the size and shape of your crown restoration(s). In case, the dental crowns are being used for your smile makeover, models are made from these dental impressions for designing the new shape, alignment and length of your teeth. Thus, this enables you to preview your new smile before you actually start the treatment.
You would be informed about your options for local anesthetic as well as the tooth preparation process. Sometimes, this treatment involves use of a temporary crown, and then in that case your dentist will tell you about what hygiene steps you need to take in order to ensure functionality.
Dental Crown Procedure
Your dentist first prepares the tooth and creates a molded impression of your teeth. Then it is send to a dental laboratory. For the time being, until your permanent dental crown is ready, a temporary crown is placed over your tooth. When the former is ready, you dentist replaces the temporary with the same.
Recently, the dentists make use of a computer-aided design/manufacturing technology that displays a 3 dimensional picture of your teeth. Through the milling of a ceramic block, a restoration is created. However, if a chair-side CAD/CAM is available at your dentist’s office, temporary crown or return visit for final cementation won’t be required.
After dental crown placement
Your dentist will advise you about maintaining proper oral hygiene by brushing at least twice daily and also flossing with dental floss or the interdental cleaners daily. In this way, plaques would get removed from the area where gum and crown meet. Thus, you would be saved against any gum disease or dental decay.
You also need to avoid chewing any hard foods or ice as this could lead to damage of your crown. You need to avoid grinding your teeth or biting your fingernails. These bad habits should be taken care of at the earliest or these could considerably shorten the life-span of your dental crown. If you are a habitual grinder of your teeth at night time (bruxism), you may be recommended to wear mouth guard at night time which would help to protect your crowns while you are asleep.
Types of Crown Materials
The three choices of restorative materials for dental crowns are:
These crowns provide you a durable, strong and esthetic treatment option. This type of crown ensures the preparation of the underlying structure of the tooth providing enough space for considerable thickness of the selected material. This is one of the important key factors regarding the functional and esthetic success of Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Crowns. Also, its esthetic appeal is determined by the skills of the lab technologist who will create your crown.
As the gums recede over time, the porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns may show the underlying metal or gold margin at your gum line. Although some patients do opt for this particular type of crown, but later-on, they replace the crown to maintain a good esthetic benefit. Nevertheless, to eliminate this vulnerability, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns with an all porcelain collar are preferred by most dentists.
All-Ceramic Teeth Crowns
The predominant material used in these types of crowns is either alumina or zirconia. These provide you with number of benefits including a metal-free esthetic option.
An esthetic all-ceramic crown can be designed using a reduced thickness of material, thus, eliminating the need for the supportive metal core. Thus, these types of crowns become a more favorable option in areas with a limited space. Also, light transmission is allowed through the porcelain enabling it to have better optical and life-like properties.
These are not the popular types of crowns for esthetic reasons. However, they are still having some indications. For instance, gold crowns are preferred by dentists for patients who have strong bites. They are also preferred for those with parafunctional habits like unusual grinding or clenching. Gold provides a stronger level of support to the remaining part of the tooth structure. These are mostly used for the teeth situated at the back of your mouth (molars, premolars), where they won’t be visible vividly. They are having greater longevity, require less preparation compared to the other two types of crowns and are do not abrade the opposing tooth significantly.
The cost of a crown depends on various factors. These include the training and expertise of your dentist, the training and experience of the lab technologist creating the crown, the technical demands of your treatment as well as the geographic location of your dentist.
The price range of a dental crown is from $1,000 to $4,000. It has been reported to last between 10 to 20 years, although the results may vary depending upon a number of factors.
The treatment cost may be covered by your dental insurance policy. However, if it doesn’t or if you don’t have any sort of insurance, you can enlist the services of a third-party financing company (CareCredit, Capital One). All in all, dental crowns provide a solid way of restoring the health and functionality of your teeth for a long term basis.
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