Dental crowns are replacement caps used to restore or repair a tooth. Whether you're getting a crown because you're self-conscious about a discolored tooth or you need a tooth to replace a seriously damaged tooth, crowns are an attractive solution to a variety of dental problems.
Dental crowns are basically caps made of a material similar to porcelain. Crowns fit snugly over the top of the tooth and fastened into place so that it will last for years. A dentist will usually suggest using a crown whenever a tooth has deteriorated to the point that the tooth can no longer by used or when the appearance of a tooth is severely compromised. You'll often get a crown after a root canal or when part of a decayed tooth has to be removed.
If you have teeth that are heavily stained, uneven, or cracked, crowns can cover them and give you a brighter, whiter, more even smile. Don't be afraid to talk to your dentist about the possibility of using crowns to improve the appearance of your teeth (No, it's not just vanity; an improved appearance can do wonders for your self-confidence).
Crowns can also be part of a larger dental appliance, such as a bridge. Most bridges are held in place with a crown on either end that fits over the teeth on either side of an area where teeth are missing to hold the bridge and its false teeth securely in place. Crowns are sometime fitted over an implant when an entire tooth has been extracted or over a cracked tooth to prevent future tooth decay and maintain the integrity of the tooth's chewing surface.
How Crowns Are Installed
To properly fit a crown, it has to fit snugly and maintain the appropriate size so that it looks realistic next to your natural teeth. To achieve this, the damaged or discolored tooth will have to be filed down so that the crown fits firmly in place and is the same size as the original tooth.
To create the crown, a cast will be made of the tooth that's to be covered. The resulting impression will be used as a guideline for a specialized dental lab to make a crown designed specifically for your mouth. In some cases, your dentist may make a temporary crown for you to wear while your permanent crown is being manufactured, particularly if the underlying tooth is severely damaged or you are in pain because of an exposed nerve. The permanent crown will be cemented into place.
Taking Care Of Crowns
If you care for your crowns properly, they can last up to ten years, or even longer in some instances. Proper care isn't just brushing daily; you will need to floss around the crown often to prevent build-up of plaque, which can shorten the life of the crown (we know you floss everyday already, right?
While a crown is very strong and functions much like a real tooth, there are certain things that can cause your crown to crack or break prematurely. Clenching your teeth or grinding your teeth can significantly affect your crown, as can crunching on brittle or extremely hard foods such as ice, peanut brittle, or hard candy. If you bite down too hard on these kinds of foods, it could break the adhesion of the crown. If your crown becomes loose or feels like it has shifted, it is important that you contact your dentist right away so that it can be repaired before more damage occurs.