A crown is a synthetic tooth which is used to cover a damaged or decaying tooth, or as a replacement for an existing crown. They are an ideal choice of treatment for a problem tooth which is too severely damaged or decayed for a dental filling. Many people refer to crowns as ‘caps’ as they act as a type of covering over the top of a tooth. They are also used as part of dental implant treatment.

There are two categories of crowns: dental crowns which are designed to treat a dental problem and cosmetic crowns which are worn to enhance the appearance of a tooth.

What is a dental crown?

A dental crown is an artificial tooth which has a similar colour to a natural tooth and acts as a replacement for that tooth. They are available in a range of materials which includes gold, ceramic and the traditional porcelain fused to metal crown.

All ceramic crowns are a popular choice of crown for aesthetic reasons.

Most crowns last for at least 10 years although their longevity depends upon the type of material they are produced from. Gold crowns tend to last the longest.

Advantages of a dental crown

Their main advantage is that they hide the signs of a damaged or decayed tooth as well as maintaining its current function.

Crowns last for many years and are both strong and resilient.

Disadvantages of a dental crown

This is largely dependant upon the type of material used. Gold crowns are the strongest but are considered unattractive by many people.

All ceramic crowns are preferred for cosmetic reasons but they are more prone to cracks or a fracture due to the load placed upon them. This is more of a problem with ceramic as it can be quite fragile compared to other materials.

The dental crown procedure

This is a two stage procedure which is as follows:

First stage

This is the tooth preparation stage. It involves cleaning and reshaping the damaged tooth if necessary so that it is the correct fit for the crown.

An impression of this tooth and your other teeth is then taken. An impression is the dental term for a process which involves you biting into a soft mould so that it leaves an imprint of your teeth. This imprint is sent off to a dental laboratory where it is used as a guide for producing the crown/s.

This means wearing a temporary crown until your new crowns have been fabricated.

Second stage

Once the crown is ready you will be asked to return for the fitting. The crown will be inserted and its shape and colour compared to the rest of your teeth.

It is then fixed in place with a dental adhesive or cement. The crown may be polished before you leave.

The dentist will provide you with instructions on looking after your crown which includes: using special interdental brushes to remove plaque, cleaning your teeth twice a day and avoiding hard or crunchy foods.

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