If you have a damaged tooth, your dentist might suggest you get a dental crown placed over the tooth. A crown acts as a cover or cap for a tooth that is broken, damaged by tooth decay, or misshapen.
Crowns can also be used to hold a bridge in place or to cover the metal post of a dental implant. Dental crowns help protect your tooth from further damage, improve the appearance of the tooth, and restore biting and chewing function.
Planning for Your Crown
The first thing your dentist will do if you have a damaged tooth is to do a thorough examination of your tooth and take X-rays of your tooth and the surrounding bone. If your dentist decides a crown is likely to correct the issue, they will assess whether the tooth needs other work done first.
Teeth that are decayed or have an infection or injury to the pulp inside the tooth must be cleaned out before your dentist can place a crown. This is usually done with a root canal prior to any preparation for the crown itself.
Preparing Your Tooth
Once your tooth is clear of infection and ready for your crown placement, your dentist will prepare your tooth to make room for the crown. To do this, your dentist will use a gentle file to file down the top and sides of your tooth slightly.
Crowns made of metal are the thinnest material and require the least amount of tooth removed before placement. Crowns made of porcelain material look more like a natural tooth, but they are thicker than crowns made entirely of metal, so your dentist will need to file down more of your natural tooth if you opt for a porcelain crown.
If you have a tooth that is worn down or has large pieces missing, your dentist may use a dental filling material to mold around your natural tooth, which adds structure to the crown.
Taking an Impression and Placing a Temporary Crown
After your tooth is shaped properly, your dentist will use a paste to make an impression of it and send it to the dental laboratory that will make your crown fit your tooth specifically. Before you leave your first crown appointment your dentist will place a temporary crown over your tooth to protect it while you wait for the permanent one.
Placing Your Permanent Crown
Unless you're getting a same-day crown done, you'll need a second appointment two or three weeks after your initial crown appointment to give the laboratory time to make your crown and send it to your dentist's office. Your dentist will remove your temporary crown and check the fit on the permanent crown. If it fits properly, you'll get a local anesthetic to numb your mouth, and your dentist will place your permanent crown.
For more information about dental crowns, contact a local dental office.