Dental crowns are synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain, placed on the top of a tooth. They are typically used to restore a tooth’s function and appearance following a restorative procedure such as a root canal. When decay in a tooth has become so advanced that large portions of the tooth must be removed, crowns are often used to restore the tooth.
Crowns are also used to attach bridges, cover implants, prevent a cracked tooth from becoming worse, or protect an existing filling that is in jeopardy of becoming loose or dislocated. Dental crowns also serve an aesthetic use, and are applied when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance.
To accommodate a dental crown, a tooth must usually be reduced in size. A cast is made of the existing tooth, and an impression is made. The impression is then sent to a special lab, which manufactures a custom-designed crown in the shape of the original tooth. In some cases, a temporary crown is applied until the permanent crown is ready. Permanent crowns are cemented in place.
Caring for Crowns
With proper care, a good quality crown can last up to eight years or even longer. It is very important to floss in the area of the crown to avoid excess plaque or collection of debris around the restoration.
Certain behaviors such as jaw clenching or bruxism (teeth grinding) significantly shorten the life of a dental crown. Moreover, eating brittle foods, ice, or hard candy can compromise the adhesion of the crown or damage it.