Getting a dental crown is an extremely common dental procedure, second only to dental fillings. Dental crowns are full-coverage tooth caps for teeth that lack strength. They are commonly made from metal, porcelain, ceramic and even gold. Dental crowns protect vulnerable teeth from biting and chewing forces and improve aesthetics. Because of their strength, materials and prep time, they are more costly than dental fillings. This may leave you wondering if you need a dental crown or if a filling will suffice. Understanding why dental crowns are recommended and superior to dental fillings is essential.
What is a Dental Crown?
As mentioned above, a dental crown is a cap-like structure that covers the entire crown of a tooth (above and just slightly below the gum line) The dental crown covers the biting surface, front, back and in-between surfaces of the tooth. A dental crown is fabricated in a lab to fit your tooth and bite specifically. The main functions of a crown are to strengthen a tooth, prevent chips or fractures, and prevent decay and infection. The most common type of crown has a metal underlay and is covered in porcelain to match the surrounding teeth.
When is a Dental Crown Recommended?
- For teeth that have large areas of decay
- For teeth that have large fillings with minimal tooth structure left
- For broken, fractured or chipped teeth
- For a tooth that gets the brunt of the biting forces
- For teeth with enamel discrepancies such as hypoplasia or “soft teeth.”
- For root canal-treated teeth
- For peg-shaped teeth
- For front teeth to improve the overall aesthetic
Dental Crown Vs. Dental Filling
Sometimes, the decision between a dental crown and a filling is left up to the patient. In other cases, a crown is necessary. A crown offers better, more long-lasting support for a tooth, yet is more costly. A dental filling may break down or cause future damage to a tooth, but it is less expensive upfront.
Dental Crown Procedure
The tooth is thinned down, all decay removed, and the tooth shape is prepared to accept the dental crown. Enough space must be made to allow the crown to fit like a cap on top of the tooth. Once prepared, dental impressions are taken to send to the lab to create the crown specifically for your tooth. A temporary is usually placed in the meantime. About a week later, the permanent crown will be ready to replace the temporary dental crown. The temporary crown will be removed, and the permanent crown will be glued. The crown procedure typically takes two appointments.
If you have questions about dental crowns or believe you may need one, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.