A dental crown is an artificial restorative cap that is placed over a tooth to strengthen and stabilize it. At Kevin Kay DDS Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we offer traditional crowns that are made from a variety of different materials, as well as same-day CEREC crowns.
Uses of a Dental Crown
A dental crown is used to protect and strengthen a damaged tooth or a tooth that has undergone surgical treatment. A crown is placed to hold together and stabilize the cracks or fractures. It is used to restore a large cavity in the tooth when not much tooth structure is remaining. Dental crowns are also used to lengthen disproportionately short front teeth that result in a gummy smile. It may also be used to top a dental implant or hold a dental bridge in place. After a root canal treatment, the weakened tooth needs to be topped with a crown, as well.
Preparation of a Dental Crown
Dental crowns can either be prepared in a dental lab or in-office using CEREC technology.
Preparation of a Conventional Crown
We will first examine your mouth and take an x-ray of the affected tooth and its surrounding bone structure. We will then file the tooth across its sides and top so that it can accommodate a crown. The amount of tooth structure that needs to be removed depends on the material used to make the crown.
Conventional crowns can be made from gold, all-porcelain, porcelain-fused-to-metal, and all-resin. All-metal crowns are thin and don’t require too much tooth structure to be removed, though their color is metallic and not aesthetically pleasing. The most natural-looking crowns are porcelain, though they may require more preparation.
Once we decide on the type of material your crown will be made of, we will reshape your tooth and use a putty-like material to create molds of your tooth. These impressions are then sent to a dental lab where the crown is fabricated. This process may take two to three weeks.
Preparation of CEREC Crowns
The biggest advantage of CEREC crowns is that they eliminate several steps required to make a conventional crown. However, CEREC crowns can only be made from porcelain blocks.
To make the crown, we will take several digital images of your mouth using an intraoral camera. The images will be sent to computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software so it becomes easier for us to make adjustments to the 3D tooth graphics. Once the tooth image has been adjusted, we will send it to a milling machine that will fabricate the crown from a single block of high-quality porcelain.
This process is completed within half an hour.
Problems Associated With Crowns
Although dental crowns are designed to last you for decades, in some cases, you may experience some issues with them.
One of the most common issues is related to tooth sensitivity. If your tooth still has a nerve, your tooth may be sensitive to hot or cold food once the anesthesia wears off. Pain, when you bite down on the tooth, may also indicate the crown is sitting too high on the tooth. Both these issues can be managed by Dr. Kevin Kay at Kevin Kay DDS Family & Cosmetic Dentistry.
Sometimes, porcelain-fused-with-metal crowns may show a dark line next to the gumline. This is of no functional concern since this is just the metal showing through the porcelain. However, people who have such a crown on their front tooth may want to get it changed as it may not be aesthetically pleasing.
Crowns made from porcelain or all-resin may be prone to chipping. Small chips can be repaired, but if the crown suffers a big fracture, it will need to be replaced.
Sometimes, the cement material affixing the crown to the tooth may also wear off, which can cause the crown to become loose or fall off. If this happens, it can cause the bacteria to leak into your tooth and re-infect it.
If you experience increased pain and sensitivity or a loose crown, seek an urgent appointment with us by calling us at (425) 738-8476 and get your crown fitted again.