What is a crown?
A crown is an artificial restoration that fits over the remaining part of a prepared tooth, making it strong and giving it the shape of a natural tooth. A crown is sometimes known as a ‘cap’.
Why would I need a crown?
Crowns are an ideal restoration for teeth that have been broken, or have been weakened by decay or a very large filling. A crown could be used for a number of other reasons, for instance:
- You may have discoloured fillings and would like to improve the appearance of the tooth
- You may have had a root filling which may need a crown to protect what is left of the tooth
- It may help hold a bridge or denture firmly in place.
How is a crown prepared?
The dentist will prepare the tooth to the ideal shape for the crown. This will involve removing most of the outer surface, and leaving a strong inner core. Once the tooth is shaped, the dentist will take an impression (mould) of the prepared tooth, one of the opposite jaw and possibly another to mark the way you bite together.
The impressions will then be given to the dental technician, along with an appropriate shade and other information needed for the crown to be made.
What is a post crown?
In root-filled teeth it may be necessary to insert a post before placing a crown. A post provides support and helps the crown stay in place. The weakened crown of the tooth may be shortened to gum level.
A post can be made of prefabricated stainless steel which the dentist can fit directly into the root canal, or a custom-made post can be constructed by the dental technician to accurately fit the shape of the prepared root canal. The post is placed into the root canal and cemented in position, ready for the crown to be attached.
Are there any alternatives to post crowns for root-filled teeth?
If a root filled tooth is not completely broken down, it may be possible to build it up again using filling material. This ‘core’ is then prepared in the same way as a natural tooth and the impressions are taken.
How is the crown fitted?
When you and your dentist are happy with the fit and appearance of the new crown it will be fixed in place with special dental cement or adhesive. The cement forms a seal to hold the crown in place.
How long does the treatment take?
You will need to have at least two visits – the first for the preparation, impression, shade taking and fitting the temporary crown and the second to fit the permanent crown. There will usually be about 1 to 2 weeks in between appointments.
Will the crown be noticeable?
The crown will be made to match your other teeth as closely as possible. The shade of the neighbouring teeth will be recorded, to make sure that the colour looks natural and matches the surrounding teeth.
What will it cost?
Costs will vary according to the type of crown and material used. It is advisable to get a written estimate and treatment plan before beginning any dental treatment.
How do I care for my crown?
How long your crown lasts depends on how well you look after it.
The crown itself cannot decay, but decay can start where the edge of the crown joins the tooth. Therefore, to prevent decay affecting the crown, it is important to keep this area just as clean as you would your natural teeth.
How long will the crown last?
Properly cared for crowns should last for many years. Your dentist will be able to tell you how long the crown may be expected to last.