A dental crown is a porcelain or metal fitting that covers a damaged or missing tooth. As well as matching up with existing teeth, a crown provides strength for the tooth it covers, and protects it from further damage.
A dental crown is often the solution after a root canal, a large filling, or a broken tooth. A crown can also be fitted onto a dental implant as a replacement for a missing tooth.
Types of Dental Crowns
Different materials may be used to build and shape a crown depending on the location in the mouth of the missing tooth.
Metal Crowns are made of gold; they’re about the most traditional fitting you can find in modern dentistry. Metal crowns won’t chip or break, and tend not to wear down opposing natural teeth (the ones on the opposite side of the jaw). The only drawback is that gold looks unnatural, particularly on the front teeth (unless that’s the look you’re going for!).
Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Crowns look natural and are stronger than porcelain and other composite crowns. Chipping is minimal, but depending on the design, it can be hard to get them to look right.
As mentioned, Porcelain Crowns look most like natural teeth. Improvements in technology mean their strength is on par with Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal crowns. Of the three options, porcelain crowns are by far the most flexible when it comes to matching tooth colours and shades.
Dental Crowns – Keeping it Natural
Like it or not, many people end up with a crown that’s visible in their smile. Dentists set and colour dental crowns to look as natural as possible: the restoration should be virtually unnoticeable.
Often when people think of cosmetic crowns many people think of bright, white replacements. This idea falls down when you consider natural stains and blemishes on most people’s teeth. Hover over Example A to see a before and after example of a crown placed on front teeth.
The front tooth on the left is in pretty good shape. The adjacent tooth was pretty clear of imperfections. The adjacent one was made to reflect that.
Sometimes we have to replace teeth with imperfections, and do so in such a way that the crown doesn’t stand out. It may go against our smile-whitening culture, but cracks, stains and imperfections need to be mimicked for a dental crown to look right. Have a look at Examples B-E.
In this case the front right tooth is a crown done by our ceramist. The imperfections of the patient’s other teeth were replicated so well that the crown blends in with the adjacent teeth. Compared with the other, older crowns further along the right side of the mouth, you can see a difference between our crown and the ones done prior.
Hover over Example F for another example of imperfections duplicated in a cosmetic crown.
Fitting a Dental Crown
1. The procedure starts with a local anesthetic from the dentist.
2. From here the dentist will file down the offending tooth, making space for the new crown in the patient’s existing bite.
3. The dentist takes an impression of the filed-down tooth and adjacent teeth, which will form a mold used to custom craft the final crown. The mold ensures that the final crown will be the right shape for your mouth and bite.
4. The dentist builds a temporary crown that covers the tooth that needs to be restored. This temporary crown is made from an impression of the tooth before it was filed down, and may not have the same shape or colour as a final crown.
5. At the next visit, the dentist replaces the temporary fitting with the permanent cosmetic crown. They’ll make minor adjustments to ensure that the crown fits well, and has the right shape, colour and bite. When this is done the dentist cements the crown into place.
Dental crowns are excellent options when restorative work is needed to strengthen or replace a damaged tooth. Remember, the goal is to mimic nature and ensure that the work is not noticeable. especially if there are some imperfections built-in on purpose.
If you have a question about dental crowns, contact us, or speak to a member of our team when you’re next in.