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Dental Crowns: Everything You Should Know

A dental crown is a cap-like restoration placed over a tooth to improve its appearance, shape, and function. Crowns are typically made from a porcelain-like material to look like natural teeth and are custom-made to fit each tooth. This ensures that the crown will blend seamlessly with the other teeth and look natural.

Reasons for a Dental Crown

Dental crowns may be recommended for a variety of reasons, including:

To restore a tooth that has been damaged by decay or trauma: If a tooth has been damaged by decay or trauma, a crown can be used to restore its structure and function. The crown will cover the entire visible portion of the tooth, protecting it from further damage and allowing you to eat and speak comfortably.

To support a tooth that has a large filling and is at risk of breaking: When a tooth has a large filling, it can become weak and may be at risk of breaking. A crown can provide additional support for the tooth, reducing the risk of breakage and helping preserve the tooth.

To hold a dental bridge in place: A dental bridge is a restoration used to replace one or more missing teeth. The bridge consists of one or more false teeth supported by crowns on either side. The crowns are placed over the adjacent teeth, and the pontics are attached to the crowns to fill the gap left by the missing teeth.

To improve the appearance of a misshapen or discoloured tooth: If a tooth is misshapen or discoloured, it can affect your smile and self-confidence. A crown can improve the tooth’s appearance, making it look more natural and attractive.

Types of Crowns

There are several different types of crowns available, including:

Porcelain crowns: These crowns are made from porcelain or a porcelain-like material and are designed to match the colour and appearance of the surrounding teeth. Porcelain crowns are highly aesthetic and can provide a natural-looking result.

Metal crowns: These crowns are made from a strong and durable metals, such as gold or silver. They are less visible than porcelain crowns but may not be as aesthetically pleasing. Metal crowns are typically used in areas of the mouth that are not highly visible, such as the back teeth.

Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns: These crowns are a combination of porcelain and metal and offer the strength of metal with the aesthetic appeal of porcelain. However, the metal underlying the porcelain can sometimes show through, affecting the crown’s natural appearance. Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are typically used in areas of the mouth that are more visible, such as the front teeth.

The type of crown that is right for you will depend on several factors, including the location of the tooth, your personal preferences, and your dentist’s recommendation. It is important to discuss the different options with your dentist to determine the best choice for your situation.

Advantages of Dental Crowns

Dental crowns offer several benefits, including:

Improved appearance: Crowns can improve the appearance of a misshapen or discoloured tooth, making it look more natural and attractive. This can enhance your smile and boost your self-confidence.

Increased strength: Crowns can help to strengthen a damaged or weakened tooth, making it less likely to break or become infected. This can help preserve the tooth and prevent more invasive treatments, such as root canal therapy or extraction.

Better function: Crowns can help restore a tooth’s function, allowing you to eat and speak more comfortably. This can improve your overall quality of life and make it easier to maintain good oral health.

Disadvantages of Dental Crowns

There are also some potential disadvantages to dental crowns, including:

Cost: Crowns can be expensive, especially if you do not have dental insurance. The cost will vary depending on the crown type, the tooth’s location, and other factors. It is important to discuss the cost with your dentist and determine if you can afford the treatment.

Invasiveness: The procedure of placing a crown can be invasive and may require the removal of some of the tooth structure. This can cause some discomfort and may require the use of anaesthesia.

Possible need for future repairs: Crowns can wear down or become damaged over time and may need to be repaired or replaced. This can add to the overall cost of the treatment and may require additional visits to the dentist. It is important to practice good oral hygiene and avoid habits that can damage the crown, such as grinding or using teeth to open packages.

Teeth Crowning Procedure

The procedure to place a dental crown typically involves the following steps:

  • Examination and preparation: The dentist will examine your tooth and take X-rays to determine if a crown is appropriate. They will then prepare the tooth by removing any decay and shaping it to fit the crown. This may involve removing some of the tooth structure, such as enamel or dentin.
  • Impression: The dentist will then take an impression of your tooth to create a custom-fit crown. This impression will be sent to a dental laboratory, where the crown will be made to the exact specifications of your tooth.
  • Temporary crown: A temporary crown may be placed over the prepared tooth while the permanent crown is being made. The temporary crown protects the tooth and allows you to eat and speak normally. It will be made from a material that is not as strong or durable as the permanent crown and will need to be removed when the permanent crown is ready.
  • Permanent crown placement: When the permanent crown is ready, the dentist will remove the temporary crown and place the permanent crown over the prepared tooth. They will then adjust the crown to ensure a proper fit and bite and cement it.
  • The entire procedure typically takes two or three visits to the dentist and may require local anaesthesia to minimize discomfort.

Side Effects of Crowns

As with any dental procedure, there are some potential side effects to be aware of with dental crowns, including:

  • Pain and discomfort: Some people may experience pain and discomfort after the procedure, especially if the tooth is infected or damaged before the placement of the crown. Over-the-counter pain medication can usually manage discomfort, and the pain should subside within a few days.
  • Sensitivity: The tooth may be sensitive to hot and cold temperatures after the procedure. This is normal and should improve over time.
  • Swelling: The gums around the crown may become swollen. This can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medication and cold compresses.
  • Infection: In rare cases, the tooth or the gums may become infected after the placement of the crown. If this occurs, the dentist will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.
  • Allergic reaction: Some people may have allergies or sensitivities to the materials used in the crown. This can cause redness, itching, or swelling of the gums. If this occurs, the dentist will recommend an alternative material for the crown.

Postoperative Instructions

After the procedure, the dentist will provide you with postoperative instructions to help ensure a successful and comfortable recovery. These may include:

  • Avoiding hard or sticky foods for the first few days to allow the crown to set properly
  • Brushing and flossing as usual, but taking care to avoid the crown
  • Using over-the-counter pain medication as needed to manage discomfort
  • Returning to the dentist for follow-up appointments to check the fit and condition of the crown.
  • It is important to follow these instructions carefully to ensure that the crown is successful and that any potential complications are avoided.

Conclusion

Dental crowns are a common and effective way to restore a damaged or weakened tooth’s appearance, strength, and function. Placing a crown can be invasive, but proper care and maintenance can last for many years. Discussing the potential risks and benefits of a crown with your dentist is important to determine if it is the right option for you.

If you think you may need a dental crown or if it has been a while since your last check-up, schedule an appointment and take the first step towards a healthier, more confident smile.

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