There are many and varied needs and uses for the catch-all term of "crowns" for teeth. Most often, crowns can be generically identified as the restoration of choice for recreating appropriate form and function for a tooth that has been destroyed to the point of having little supported strong structure remaining. When a tooth has fractured, when a tooth has extensive destruction from decay, when a tooth has a history of extensive filling materials that are losing their integrity (chipping, leaking, new decay) when back teeth have been saved and yet are more fragile following root canal treatment, crowns become the treatment of choice due to a more predictably long lasting and protective treatment alternative than most filling-types of restorations. One way of considering the need for a crown is when there would be more filling to be put "on" a tooth, rather than "in" a tooth. Most of our fillings do best when surrounded by strong tooth structure.
There needs to be enough tooth gone to warrant a crown. There needs to be enough tooth remaining to securely retain a crown. When this is not the case, a Core Foundation Build Up is used to allow for a stable base upon which the crown sits. A core provides an adequate foundation for the support of a crown when insufficient tooth structure remains from fracture, decay or extensive previous restoration. Many times the necessity of a core can only be determined at the time of preparation; the core can most often be accomplished at the same visit that the crown preparation and records are made.
Crown materials are selected based on the requirements of the tooth being restored. Is it in the aesthetic zone/ the smile zone? What are the stress of function considerations? How much room is available between opposing teeth? What allergies or sensitivities exist? These and other considerations will support the determination of methods and materials for the crown.
A tremendous amount of progress is being made in dentistry today. New, stronger and more beautiful materials continue to become available for our patients when crowns are necessary. I am pleased to discuss the specifics when your treatment plans call for a crown.
Crowns are synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain, placed on the top of a tooth.
Crowns 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 an existing filling is in jeopardy of becoming loose or dislocated. Crowns also serve an aesthetic use, and are applied when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance.
A tooth must usually be reduced in size to accommodate a crown. A cast is made of the existing tooth and an impression is made. The impression is sent to a special lab, which manufactures a custom-designed crown. In some cases, a temporary crown is applied until the permanent crown is ready. Permanent crowns are cemented in place.
Crowns are sometimes confused with veneers, but they are quite different. Veneers are typically applied only to relatively small areas.
Caring For Your Crowns
With proper care, a good quality crown could last up to eight years or 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 crown. Moreover, eating brittle foods, ice or hard candy can compromise the adhesion of the crown, or even damage the crown.