What is a dental crown?

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap which is placed over a tooth. It covers the tooth with the purpose of restoring the tooth’s shape, size and strength, improving its appearance as well as preserving the functionality of the damaged tooth. A dental crown has the ability to hold a weak tooth together so it will be able to endure the constant work of chewing.

Dental crowns explained

Why get a dental crown?

There are a number of reasons why your dentist may suggest a dental crown:

  1. To protect a weak tooth from breaking or to hold together parts of a cracked tooth
  2. To restore an already broken tooth or a tooth that has been severely worn down
  3. To cover a tooth that has a large filling
  4. To hold a dental bridge in place
  5. To restore a misshaped or severely discolored tooth
  6. To cover a dental implant
  7. To strengthen a tooth after a root canal treatment

How long does it take to get a dental crown and what’s involved?

The procedure requires two visits with your dentist. During the first visit the dentist will prepare the tooth by removing most of the outer surface and leaving the strong inner core on which the crown will be later placed. Following this the dentist will send a molded impression of the prepared tooth to the dental laboratory along with an appropriate shade and other information needed for the dental crown. Lastly, during the same visit, the dentist will place a temporary dental crown in order to temporarily protect the tooth. After the final restoration is made in the dental laboratory the dental crown will be bonded in the second visit. Typically there will be 1 to 2 weeks between the two visits. Once the dental crown is cemented into place it will encase the entire visible portion of the tooth at and above the gum line. The average cost of a dental crown varies from $1,000 to $3,000.

In cases where there has been a root canal treatment it may be necessary for the dentist to insert a post before placing the dental crown because there may not be much tooth above the gum. Therefore the post will provide support to help keep the dental crown in place. The post can be made from prefabricated stainless steel which may be fitted directly into the root canal or a custom-made post can be constructed to fit the shape of the prepared root canal. The dentist will place the post into the root canal and cemented in position so that the dental crown may be attached.

Will the dental crown feel different?

It should be noted that because the shape of the dental crown may vary slightly from that of your original tooth this may initially feel different. Over the next few days it should begin to feel normal and a difference should no longer be apparent. However if the bite still feels uncomfortable it may be necessary to have some adjustments and the dentist should be asked to check the dental crown.

How often does the dental crown need to be replaced?

Patients should typically expect to replace their dental crowns after approximately 7 to 15 years for a number of reasons including concerns about the appearance of the dental crown, problems like wear, decay or poor fit of the older dental crowns.

What can the dental crown be made from?

Dental crowns can be made from metal, porcelain-fused-to-metal, all-ceramic (all-porcelain), all-resin. The material selected is made in accord to clinical demands, aesthetic demands, strength requirements, material durability and restorative space available.

Types of dental crowns

It is important to remember that dental crowns may not be as strong as your natural teeth; therefore do not bite down on hard objects and do not use your teeth to open or cut things. If possible try to avoid doing such things with your natural teeth as well.