What is a 'Crown'?
Unfortunately, it is not like a headpiece that the Queen gets to parade around wearing, and thankfully a dental crown doesn't cost nearly as much as that piece of jewelry!
In technical terms, a crown is a 'fixed prosthetic device' that is cemented in place onto existing tooth structure or onto an implant, and can only be placed and removed by a dental professional. A crown in dentistry has very practical applications, and can also improve the appearance of a tooth at the same time!
How Do They Work?
A crown is a solid dental restoration that is either milled in a special machine or made in a dental laboratory. They are used to cover or 'cap' a damaged tooth, and can improve the appearance, shape or alignment of the tooth.
A primary advantage of a crown over a filling is the ability to strengthen the remaining tooth and help prevent further cracking, damage or loss of tooth structure. This is because the crown is a single solid piece, quite different to a standard dental filling.
A crown can also be placed on top of an implant to provide tooth-like form and function.
Below is a simple diagram of the process of a crown:
1 - Broken, cracked or damaged tooth.
2 - Tooth is shaped and prepared for the crown.
3 - Crown is cemented in place.
What is a crown made of?
A crown is made from one of three main types of materials:
- All metal (eg. stainless steel, gold or gold-alloy)
- All ceramic (porcelain)
- Porcelain-fused-to-metal (white porcelain on top of a metal alloy)
The porcelain or ceramic crowns can be matched to the color of your natural teeth, and the technician will often add staining and characterization to the tooth to achieve a near life-like appearance. The dentist will often choose the material of the crown to best suit your needs and situation.
Why would I need a crown?
Your dentist will most commonly recommend a crown to:
- Repair a cracked or heavily damaged tooth;
- Protect a weak or heavily filled tooth from future damage.
Other reasons for a crown include:
- To strengthen a tooth that has had root canal treatment;
- To replace a large filling when there is not enough natural tooth remaining;
- To attach a bridge or larger dental prosthesis;
- To cover a dental implant;
- To cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth.
How Long Will It Last?
Most crowns provided they are looked after and placed correctly, can last at least 8 – 10 years. However, as they age the cement holding a crown in can sometimes come loose causing the crown to fall out.
The most important way to help ensure the longevity of your crown is to practice good oral hygiene and floss! Also see your dentist for 6-monthly checkups and professional cleaning to make sure you get the best usage out of your crown(s)!
Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, or if you think you might need a crown!
Take care and we hope to see you soon,
Dr Richard Chee and the team at Gateway Dental Health