The Ultimate Guide to a Dental Crown: Everything You Need to Know.
A dental crown, or “tooth cap” or tooth crowns, is a common dental restoration used in preserving and restoring damaged or weakened teeth. Whether you’re suffering from a cracked, chipped, or severely decayed natural tooth, a dental crown can be an option to restore your smile and protect your oral health. We want to build your understanding of dental crowns, covering everything from their definition and purpose to the intricate process of placement, handcrafting, advantages, disadvantages, and the critical decision of choosing between a crown or a dental implant.
What is a Dental Crown?
Dental crowns, often just called “crowns,” are dental prosthetics that encapsulate a damaged or weakened natural tooth, effectively restoring its shape, size, strength, and appearance. A dental crown is custom-designed to fit over the natural tooth, encasing it like a cap (or crown!), and is cemented in place to provide long-lasting support.
Why do People Need a Dental Crown?
Dental crowns serve various purposes, making them a versatile and indispensable tool in restorative dentistry. Some of the common reasons people may require dental crowns include:
1. Tooth Decay:
- When a tooth is severely decayed, and a dental filling is insufficient to repair it, a dental crown is used to cover and protect the damaged natural tooth.
2. Cracks and Fractures:
- Teeth with significant cracks or fractures can be reinforced and protected with a dental crown, preventing further damage and preserving its functionality.
3. Large Fillings:
- Teeth with extensive fillings that compromise their structural integrity may benefit from a dental crown, which helps to hold the natural tooth together.
4. Root Canal Treatment:
- After a root canal procedure, a crown is often placed on top of the treated tooth to seal it and restore its strength.
5. Cosmetic Reasons:
- A Dental crown can improve the appearance of misshapen, discoloured, or poorly sized teeth, enhancing the overall aesthetics of a smile.
What is the difference between a Temporary Crown and a Permanent Crown?
A Temporary dental crown and a permanent dental crown are both components of the dental crown placement process, but they differ in several key aspects:
- Material: Temporary dental crowns are typically made from acrylic, resin, or other materials that are not as durable or long-lasting as the materials used for permanent crowns.
- Purpose: Temporary dental crowns serve as placeholders, while the permanent crown is being custom-made in our Perth dental lab. They protect the prepared tooth and maintain the space for the final permanent crown.
- Durability: Temporary dental crowns are not designed to withstand the same forces and wear as permanent crowns. They are intended for short-term use and are more prone to chipping or breaking.
- Aesthetics: Temporary dental crowns are functional but are not as aesthetically pleasing as permanent crowns. They may have a generic appearance and may not match the colour and shape of your surrounding natural teeth as closely.
- Removability: Temporary dental crowns are usually designed to be easily removed by the dentist when the permanent crown is ready for placement.
- Life Span: Temporary dental crowns are not meant to be long-lasting solutions. They are typically used for a few weeks to a couple of months.
- Material: Permanent dental crowns are custom-fabricated from a wide range of materials, including all-metal, all-porcelain, porcelain fused to metal crowns (PFM), and zirconia. The choice of material depends on factors like aesthetics, location in the mouth, and the patient’s preferences.
- Purpose: Permanent dental crowns are the final, long-term restorations used to restore the tooth’s function, appearance, and strength. They are designed to be a permanent solution.
- Durability: Permanent dental crowns are constructed to withstand the daily forces of biting and chewing and are much more durable than temporary crowns.
- Aesthetics: Permanent dental crowns are customised to match the colour, shape, and appearance of your natural teeth, making them nearly indistinguishable from the surrounding dentition.
- Removability: Once a permanent dental crown is cemented in place, it is not meant to be removed unless there is a specific reason for replacement, such as damage or wear over time.
- Life Span: A dental crown is expected to have a good lifespan, often lasting for many years, mainly depending on factors like oral hygiene, the material used, and the patient’s bite and personal habits.
The Process of Placing a Dental Crown
When having a dental crown procedure, the placement of a dental crown is a meticulous process that involves several steps:
1. Examination and Preparation:
- Your Aria dentist will assess the damaged tooth’s condition through a thorough examination, which will include X-rays. If a crown is deemed as the right option, the tooth is prepared by removing any decay and shaping it to accommodate the dental crown.
- An impression of the now-prepared tooth and the surrounding teeth is taken. This digital scan (or mould) will be used to create your custom-fit dental crown.
3. Temporary Crown:
- While your dental crown is crafted in Aria’s in-house dental laboratory, a temporary crown is placed to protect the weak tooth. This temporary crown is usually made from resin or acrylic and is less durable than the final porcelain crown.
4. Crown Fabrication:
- Our skilled Q-lab technicians in our dental laboratory meticulously craft the dental crown according to the impressions. The choice of materials, such as porcelain, metal, or a combination of both, depends on the tooth’s location and the patient’s preferences. For special cases, same day crowns can be arranged.
5. Crown Placement:
- Once the dental crown is ready, the temporary crown is removed, and the new crown is cemented into place. The fit and bite are carefully adjusted to ensure comfort and functionality.
The Art of Crafting Dental Crowns
Crafting dental crowns is a precise and intricate process that demands attention to detail. Here’s an overview of the steps involved in handcrafting them:
1. Model Creation:
- Our dental lab technicians create a three-dimensional model of the patient’s teeth using the digital or mould impressions taken by the dentist. This model serves as the foundation for crafting the crown.
2. Material Selection:
- The choice of material for the crown, whether all-metal, all-porcelain, or a combination, is determined based on factors like aesthetics, durability, and the tooth’s location in the mouth.
3. Tooth Preparation:
- The model is used to create a wax replica of the tooth, which is then prepared and shaped to match the specifications of the patient’s tooth.
- For metal crowns, a casting process is used to create the crown by melting the chosen metal and pouring it into the wax mould.
5. Layering (Porcelain Crowns):
- For porcelain crowns, layers of porcelain are applied to the prepared tooth replica, with each layer baked and polished to achieve a lifelike appearance.
6. Quality Control:
- Our dental lab technicians meticulously inspect the crown for accuracy, fit, and aesthetics, making any necessary adjustments before sending it to your Aria dentist for its final placement.
Pros and Cons of Having a Dental Crown
- Restoration of Functionality: Dental crowns can help restore a damaged tooth’s full function, allowing for comfortable chewing and speaking.
- Aesthetic Improvement: Crowns can enhance the appearance of your smile, as they are customised to match the natural tooth colour and shape of your healthy teeth.
- Strength and Durability: Crowns provide strength and durability to a compromised tooth, extending its lifespan.
- Preservation of Tooth Structure: The procedure often requires less tooth removal than alternatives like implants.
- Minimal Recovery Time: After the final crown placement, recovery is typically swift, with most patients experiencing minimal discomfort.
- Cost: Dental crowns can be relatively expensive, depending on the material used and your desired outcome.
- Potential for Discomfort: Temporary crowns may cause slight discomfort, and the dental crown may require minor adjustments for a perfect fit.
- Not Permanent: Dental crowns have a lifespan, and they may need to be replaced over time due to normal wear and tear.
Risks of Having a Dental Crown Procedure
While dental crowns are a common and highly successful dental procedure, they are not without potential risks. It’s essential to be aware of these risks before proceeding with the treatment:
- Tooth Sensitivity: Some patients may experience increased sensitivity in the treated tooth, especially immediately after crown placement. This sensitivity usually subsides but can persist in some cases.
- Crown Fracture or Dislodgment: Crowns are designed to be durable, but they can fracture or become dislodged if subjected to extreme force, such as biting down on hard objects.
- Tooth Decay: While the crown cannot decay, the tooth underneath can still be vulnerable to decay if proper oral hygiene is not maintained.
- Allergic Reactions: In rare cases, individuals may develop allergies to the materials used in crown fabrication, such as metals or dental cement.
- Gum Issues: Poorly fitted crowns or crowns with rough edges can irritate the gum tissue, potentially leading to gum problems.
Should I Have a Permanent Crown or a Dental Implant?
The decision to opt for a dental crown procedure or a dental implant depends on various factors, including the extent of the dental issue and your personal preferences.
Here are some considerations to guide your decision:
- Tooth Condition: If the tooth can be saved and still has a healthy root, a crown may be a suitable option. However, if the tooth is severely compromised or bits missing, a dental implant might be the better long-term option.
- Cost: Crowns are generally cheaper than implants. However, implants offer a more permanent and natural solution in the long-term.
- Time and Convenience: Crown placement is typically quicker and involves fewer dental appointments. Dental implants may require more time and multiple visits.
- Aesthetics: Crowns can provide excellent aesthetic results, but dental implants are often considered the gold standard for replicating the look and feel of natural teeth.
- Life Span: Crowns will need replacing over time. Depending on your age, you may replace a crown a number of times. With a single implant, it will last between 20-25 years and, for most, is likely a one-off treatment cost.
Consult with your Aria dentist to evaluate your specific needs, and they will help determine the most suitable option in your case.
Need a Dental Crown? Aria can help.
A crown procedure is a versatile and practical dental restoration that can save and enhance the function and appearance of your teeth. The decision to get a dental crown should be made after carefully considering the pros and cons and an expert consultation with your Aria Dental dentist.
With proper care and maintenance, a dental crown can provide long-lasting benefits and contribute to a healthier, more confident smile. Crowns are generally covered by your private health insurance. Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover dental.
To book your dental crown procedure or to understand your natural tooth treatment options, feel free to contact our Aria Dental Patient Services team to make your appointment.