If your tooth is damaged but not lost, a dental crown or cap can be used to cover the damaged part of the tooth. A dental crown protects your tooth from further damage.
You may need a crown if
- you have a root canal
- you have large filling in a tooth
- you have a broken tooth
- your tooth is badly stained, misshapen, or misaligned
Crowns can be made out of various materials. The most common materials include metals, porcelain, or porcelain fused to metal. They are very strong and last about ten years if taken care of properly. Crowns should be brushed and flossed just like normal teeth.
Now, crowns may not be as strong as your natural teeth, so you should generally avoid biting down on hard objects or using your teeth to open/cut things. In fact, you should avoid doing these things with your natural teeth as well.
How are crowns made?
There are five primary steps to the crown making process.
1: Dr. Shah may make a mold (also known as an impression) of your tooth to fit a temporary dental crown. It protects your tooth until the permanent crown is ready. Temporary crowns may not have the same shape and color as permanent ones.
2: Dr. Shah gives you a local anesthetic. She then files down your tooth to make room for the crown.
3: Another mold is taken of the filed-down tooth and nearby teeth. Then the temporary crown is placed over your tooth and you are sent on your way.
4: This mold is sent to a dental lab, where your permanent crown is custom-made. The mold of your tooth is used to make a model. A filling [or restoration] that is the same size and shape as your tooth is built based on the model.
5: On your next visit, Dr. Shah takes off the temporary crown and puts on the permanent one. Then she checks to make sure the crown is the right fit, shape and color-- if it is, Dr. Shah cements the crown into place. Your tooth will look and work very much like a natural tooth.
While these steps outline the general crown making process, some teeth require special care; occasionally, a patient may require gum treatment or orthodontic treatment.