A crown, sometimes known as a cap, is the ideal solution if one of your teeth has broken or become significantly weakened due to an excess of decay or an especially large filling. As opposed to removing the damaged tooth, this type of dental restoration is used to strengthen the existing tooth and to preserve its usefulness. Your tooth may require a crown if the damage to it is so great that the remaining tooth is too weak to support a filling. Similarly crowns can be used to strengthen teeth after certain dental treatments like root canals, or are used in place of composite bonding to build up the strength of a fractured or cracked tooth. Patients who grind their teeth or don’t eat well can fall prey to erosion. This can cause a reduction in your teeth and could mean that a crown is the only option available to restore the tooth.
Crowns by Dr Andy Effting HBDS
Technician: Philippe Seha
What types of crowns are there?
Crowns can be made from a variety of materials and even combinations of different materials. However some materials are more aesthetically pleasing than others. For example, crowns made from a combination of metal and porcelain may create highly visible dark gum lines over time. If you’re going for a natural look then it’s usually recommended that you opt for a ceramic or porcelain crown. The cost of crowns varies according to what material is used, with the price often reflecting the quality of the material. The life of a crown can depend on your oral hygiene and just like natural teeth, your dental crowns need looking after. If you maintain a good level of oral hygiene, then a crown made from a quality material can last upwards of 10 years.
Some of the most frequently used types of crown include:
- Gold Crowns
Although not as aesthetically discreet as other types of crowns, gold crowns are still the best option for many patients. If you grind or clench your teeth then the strength and durability of a gold crown is right for you.
- Ceramic Crowns
By far the most aesthetically discreet option, ceramic crowns are one of the most popular types of crown. There are several advantages to not using any metal. Firstly ceramic crowns allow light to be transmitted which creates a more life-like look for your crown. Similarly as there’s no metal, the crown can be used to treat areas with a small amount of space available. With new innovations in the durability and strength of ceramic crowns, it can also be used in areas of the mouth which undergo heavy usage.
- Porcelain fused to Metal
Porcelain - metal combinations provide both an aesthetically discreet and highly durable option for crowns. It’s important to note that the appearance of the crown relies heavily on the skill of the laboratory that creates your crown. Also this type of crown has a tendency to show underlying metal at the gum line over time. Some patients who have this type of crown opt to have the crown replaced with a more discreet or life-like crown later on in life. Fortunately, due to rapid innovations in dental technology, there are many types of metal crowns which can be used to avoid this happening.
Before having a crown fitted you will first consult with your dentist for a thorough examination and to discuss the various treatment options. The tooth will then be prepared for the crown by firstly giving it a thorough cleaning to remove any decay. If necessary, your dentist may need to reshape the tooth by using a special dental drill known as a burr. This is done so that the crown will be able to fit correctly over your tooth.
After the preparation is complete, you will have a dental putty impression taken of your teeth to be sent off to the laboratory. At the laboratory, the impression of your tooth will be used as a basis to create your crown. This can typically take a couple of weeks to complete.
Whilst you wait for your custom-made crown to be ready, it is usual to be fitted with a temporary crown to protect the tooth. Once the final crown has been prepared, your dentist will detach the temporary crown and prepare your tooth with a special kind of acid which improves the bonding process. After testing that the crown fits properly, your dentist will then use dental cement to bond the crown into place. It is very important to maintain a high level of oral hygiene as crowns require the same care as natural teeth. It’s usually advised that you avoid grinding your teeth and to avoid chewing hard foods or ice as this may damage or fracture the crown.
Are crowns right for you?
If you’re experiencing a problem with your tooth then crowns might not always be the best option. There are many less invasive treatments which can help to strengthen a damaged or decayed tooth. For example, dental bonding or veneers can be used to adequately protect the tooth without the lengthy crowning procedure. However in some cases crowns will be the only option due to the fact that other types of restoration are only effective if the tooth is strong enough to support them.