Dental Crowns

If you have a broken, stained or discolored tooth, a dental crown can help restore your smile - and your confidence! A dental crown, also called a tooth cap, is a type of replacement tooth used when a tooth is broken, damaged or discolored but the root is still intact. The damaged part of the tooth is removed, and a tooth-shaped cap of metal, porcelain, or porcelain fused to metal (the crown) is attached to the remaining root.

How does a dental crown work?

A crown is basically a replacement tooth. It can be attached to an intact root or to a dental implant to give the look, feel and function of a natural tooth.

Who should get a dental crown?

A dental crown usually follows a large filling or root canal, which can interfere with the look and function of the tooth. It may also be used in cases of broken or cracked teeth. Occasionally, a dental crown is used to replace a tooth that is badly stained or discolored, but generally, this problem is rectified through the process of teeth whitening or the application of veneers.

What does a dental crown entail?

Because dental crowns are usually made at a lab and can take up to several weeks, your dentist will likely want to fit you with a temporary crown to wear until the permanent one is ready. To do this, he or she will take an impression (or mold) of your teeth, in the vicinity of the tooth that needs replacing.

To prepare the tooth for the crown, the dentist will file it. You will probably be given a local anesthetic, often called “freezing,” to numb the area around the tooth. Usually, this is administered via a needle inserted into the gum. Although it may cause some discomfort, freezing is not painful.

Once the tooth has been filed, the dentist will take another impression, this time for the permanent crown. He or she may also hold several samples against your teeth in order to determine the color that will best match your natural teeth. You will then be fitted with your temporary crown.

You will require a second appointment to affix the permanent crown. This may be booked at the time of your first appointment, or the dentist may simply wait until the crown has returned from the lab to book you in.

At the second appointment, the dentist will remove the temporary crown and replace it with the permanent one. If the permanent crown is the right shape, fit and color, the dentist will cement it into place. If not, the dentist may be able to make minor adjustments, or it may have to be sent back to the lab for changes, in which case, you will likely be fitted once again with a temporary crown and asked to return for a third appointment.

What can and can’t I do with a dental crown?

Once properly fitted and cemented, a crown should last for about 10 years, but only if you take good care of it. Brushing and flossing is especially important, with particular care and attention devoted to the crown. Regular dental checkups are also important.

Depending on the crown’s placement in the mouth and your particular oral health, your dentist may advise you to avoid certain foods (e.g., popcorn) or activities (e.g., chewing gum). In general, however, dental crowns can be treated almost the same as natural teeth, with perhaps just a bit more caution.

How much do crowns cost?

The cost of the crown will depend on its composition and on its placement in the mouth. Your dentist will be able to give you an estimate for your particular needs. Keep in mind, dental crowns are considered major procedures and usually cost considerably more than a filling.

Many dental insurance plans cover at least a portion of the cost for crowns. You may have to submit a predetermination before your dentist starts work, so check with your provider regarding the proper procedure for making a claim