If you have had a dental filling, have a cracked tooth, a weak tooth or even a tooth that is misshapen or discolored your dentist may recommend that you get a dental crown.
It is a thin covering or cap that covers the tooth from the jaw line all the way to the top. Dental crowns make teeth work and look like normal once more. They come with several other benefits. After a root canal, for example, the dentist will have drilled into the pulp of the tooth and taken it out leaving it a little hollow (a filling only takes care of part of the problem). If you were to continue to use it in this state it would probably be extremely painful and it will wear down even further. A crown is an excellent way to make sure that you can use the tooth without any pain and also without it deteriorating further.
Dental crowns are also a good way to hold together cracked teeth. If you continue to chew on a cracked tooth it is only a matter of time before it comes apart, a process which is likely to be very painful and which also leaves you without a tooth. By installing a dental crown you will hold together that tooth possibly for a lifetime. Dental crowns can also be used as supports for dental bridges and they provide support for weak teeth. It is important to note that if you fail to install dental crowns on damaged teeth the result will be tooth loss which can have several effects: you will not be able to speak properly, you will have a problem with some kinds of food and it can even lead to further tooth loss because the teeth around the gap tend to lean into it and become weak.
What are dental crowns made of?
Dental crowns can be made of different materials. The most common ones are made out of stainless steel, but there are some that are made out of pure metals such as gold or alloys such as gold and another metal. The problem with these crowns is that they are rather visible – they do not look much like natural teeth. If you want to maintain your original smile you can talk to your dentist about getting crowns that are made out of porcelain or ceramic. There are some that are made out of porcelain that is fused to metal. Your choice of crown will also depend on your budget. The most affordable are the ones made out of steel and metal alloys but if you pay more you can get crowns that blend in with the rest of your teeth.
If your dental crowns are installed correctly and you practice good oral hygiene, including visiting the dentist on a regular basis you can expect your crown or crowns to last a lifetime. They do however sometimes come loose and need to be reattached or replaced.
How do I prepare for dental crowns?
The good news is that there isn’t really much for you to do by way of preparation. If you are feeling a little ill at ease about the procedure this is completely normal – dental procedures make many people nervous. The best thing you can do is talk to your doctor after the different types of anesthesia available and which one would be best in your circumstances. There are some types that are formulated not just to numb pain but also to help you relax. You should also ask the doctor as many questions as possible about the procedure itself – the better you know what is happing the more at ease you will feel.
How are they installed?
Installing a dental crown will require two or more visits to your dentist. During your first visit, in order to prepare your tooth for the dental crown, a little space will have to be made for it and this usually involves filing the tooth down a bit. If you have had a root canal done the inside of the tooth may also have to be filed down in order to make room for the bit that goes inside the tooth. This procedure (filing down) can be painful and that is why anesthesia is used. The dentist usually uses local anesthesia but if your tooth is badly damaged or has had a lot of work done on it you may require something stronger – the dentist, together with a qualified anesthesiologist, will come up with a formula that works for you. Make sure to let them know if you suffer any allergies.
Once the dentist is confident that he has the proper shape of the tooth he will then take an impression of it. This is the impression that he will use to create the crown so it needs to be as accurate as possible. The impression is made using a special kind of resin and this is sent off to a dental lab so that they can start working on your crown. In the meantime, the dentist or his assistant will start working on a temporary crown for you to use as you wait.
The temporary crown is what you will use as you wait for your permanent crown to get ready. Keep in mind that your tooth is already weak and if you leave it exposed it will only get more damaged.
Once your permanent crown is ready the dentist will call you back in for the final part of the procedure. He will take out the temporary crown and then using a special dental adhesive he will install the permanent crown.
Is there recovery after dental crowns?
Not quite; the new crown may feel a bit odd at first but in a few days you will have adjusted to it and will not even feel it there. Crowns, however, do need to be taken care of if they are to last. You need to stick to good oral hygiene – brush after meals, floss and use mouthwash to get to food particles that are between the teeth. If you want your crowns to last you can no longer eat hard foods – candy and ice, for instance, can cause crowns to come lose. You must visit your dentist at least twice a year for your crown or crowns to be inspected. If you feel like there is a crown coming lose, or if you can feel a crack it is very important that you see your dentist right away – they will decide whether it can be repaired or whether it has to be removed and replaced. Lastly, schedule a professional cleaning at least once a year to get to those hard-to-reach parts.