Have you chipped or damaged a tooth? Or do you just wish to improve the aesthetic appeal of your smile? Dental crowns (or tooth caps) offer a simple solution for restoring and protecting your teeth while creating a beautiful, natural-looking smile.
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A dental crown is a tooth-shaped, custom-made 'cap' that is placed over a tooth, either for protection or cosmetic enhancement. Dental crowns are used to restore a tooth’s shape, size and strength, as well as improving its overall appearance.
Dental crowns are used for many reasons, including:
From tooth damage to aesthetic preference, dental crowns are able to protect your teeth and help create a beautiful smile.
There are many different dental crowns available to suit anyone’s needs and budget. Permanent tooth caps can be made from materials including:
Metal crowns are the most long-lasting kinds available. They rarely chip or break, and they cause minimum wear to other teeth. However, because of their distinctive metal colour, these crowns are best for molars.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are a more popular choice as they can be colour-matched to your natural tooth. There is a chance that the porcelain will chip or break, and they also cause more wear to opposing teeth than all-metal crowns.
Resin crowns are a more affordable option compared to other crown types, but they wear down over time and are more susceptible to fractures than crowns made from other materials.
Ceramic or porcelain crowns are not as strong as metal or porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns, but they provide the best natural colour match. This makes them the ideal choice for front teeth.
A dental crown will work just like a natural healthy tooth. They withstand normal biting and chewing forces just like a regular tooth, though they do require maintenance and replacement as they can become loose over time.
Preparing a tooth for a crown generally requires two visits to your dentist. The initial visit involves examining and preparing the tooth and the second involves the placement of the crown.
During the first visit, your dentist may take X-rays to examine the roots of the tooth and its surrounding bone to ensure there is no decay or risk of infection. They will then inject a local anaesthetic to numb the area before filing the tooth to make room for the crown.
Once the tooth has been reshaped, the dentist will make an impression of the tooth with paste or putty. This impression will be the model of your crown, which will be made within 2-3 weeks. In the meantime, your tooth will be fitted with a temporary crown to protect the prepared tooth.
At your second visit, your dentist will remove your temporary crown and cement your permanent crown into place, ensuring the fit and colour is suitable.
The cost of a dental crown can depend on which tooth requires the crown and which material you prefer for your crown (e.g. porcelain crowns are usually more expensive than gold crowns).
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There are a few issues that can develop with a dental crown, including:
Although very rare, an allergic reaction can occur with the mixture of metals or porcelain materials used in crowns.
Discomfort or sensitivity can occur once your anaesthesia wears off. You may experience some hot and cold sensitivity if the tooth that has been crowned has a nerve remaining in it. Pain or sensitivity when biting down usually means that the crown is too high on the tooth, and your dentist can easily fix this problem once it is brought to their attention.
Crowns can become loose if the cement washes out from underneath them. This causes the crown to loosen as well as allowing bacteria to leak in, resulting in decay of the tooth that remains.
Crowns made entirely of porcelain can occasionally chip. If the chip is only small, a composite resin can be used to restore the chip with the crown remaining in your mouth. The crown may need to be replaced if the chipping is excessive.
If your crown is an improper fit or does not have enough cement to hold it on, it can fall off. You can replace the crown temporarily using over-the-counter dental adhesive or temporary tooth cement. It is advised that you call your dentist immediately, and they will provide you with instructions on how to care for your tooth and crown until you can be seen for an evaluation.
Depending on the crown material, the wear and tear, and how well it is looked after, a dental crown can last between 5 and 15 years.
Your mouth may still be numb for a few hours after the treatment until the anaesthetic wears off. Avoid chewing on your lip or cheek to prevent injury.
It is also recommended that you do not used your restored crown to chew hard or sticky foods for 24 hours while the cement is setting.
It is completely normal for your new crown to feel a little strange at first while your adjacent teeth are getting used to it.
Dental crowns do not require any special care, but it is important to remember that the tooth underneath still requires care against decay and gum disease. Brushing and flossing regularly is important to maintain good oral health and prevent these issues.
Professional dentists strive to make your dental crown look as natural and seamless as possible. If you are concerned about the appearance of your dental crown, we recommend choosing ceramic or porcelain materials for your crown, as they can be best matched to the colour of your natural teeth.
A dentist will take your individual circumstances into consideration to decide whether a dental crown is the most suitable solution for you. Depending on your situation and requirements, alternative treatments may be recommended.
If your tooth is badly damaged and there is decay or infection near the pulp, tooth removal may be recommended and a bridge or implant installed instead of a dental crown.
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