Dental Crowns

When working on a patient’s mouth, a dentist might find that one or more teeth are in need of restorative work. If this work is needed to correct the appearance, strength, size or shape of the tooth, he or she may recommend a crown be used. The crown serves as a cap shaped like a tooth and is positioned over the natural tooth. Once the crown has been cemented in place, it completely encases the conspicuous portion of the tooth at and above the gum line. Patients often wonder if and when a dental crown is needed and what the benefits are of selecting this treatment option.

When Are Dental Crowns Called For?

Dentists recommend crowns when a patient has a tooth that has weakened as a result of decay or when the tooth has cracked and needs to be held together. Teeth that have worn down over time and those that are broken benefit from the use of a crown, and dentists use crowns to cover dental implants or hold a bridge in the correct location. Cosmetic modifications often involve the use of crowns, and a crown may be employed to cover a tooth that is severely discolored or one that is misshapen and won’t benefit from the use of veneers. The dentist determines when this treatment option is the best solution for a patient’s needs.

The Use Of Crowns In Children

Children often need crowns on baby or primary teeth in a variety of situations. When a tooth has been damaged by decay and has reached the point that it can no longer support a standard filling, a crown can be of help. The same is true when a child has issues with daily oral hygiene and the dentist is concerned one or more teeth are at great risk of decay. Children with behavioral or medical issues that may interfere with their ability to properly care for their teeth may also be provided with crowns to help decrease the need for regular use of general anesthesia to care for their teeth. As these teeth aren’t permanent, the dentist often opts to use stainless steel crowns, as opposed to porcelain ones. This will be determined by the dentist and the parent.

Dental Crown Options

Patients find they have numerous options when it comes to dental crowns. Stainless steel is one option and is often used for a temporary crown or for the primary teeth of children. Metal crowns, such as those made from alloys, require less of the natural tooth be removed for placement of the crown and are extremely durable. Porcelain crowns that are fused to metal can be matched to adjacent teeth in terms of the shade, yet these crowns may chip or break. In addition, the metal used in the crown may show with time.

Other options include all-ceramic or all-porcelain crowns, all-resin crowns and milled or Zirconia crowns. Many patients opt for the ceramic or porcelain crowns, as they appear the most natural. In addition, individuals allergic to metal need to choose this option, but they aren’t as strong as their porcelain-fused-to-metal counterparts and they tend to wear the opposing teeth more. The all-resin versions are cost effective, yet are prone to wear and fractures. Zirconia or milled crowns require no impressions be made and can allow the crown to be produced immediately, eliminating the need for a temporary crown.

How A Crown Is Placed

Patients find two appointments are needed for a crown. The first visit involves the preparation of the tooth for the crown. The dentist numbs the tooth and files it down to make space for a crown or builds it up, if the tooth has significant decay. An impression of the tooth is made to ensure the patient’s bite won’t be impacted. This impression is then sent to the dental lab for the crown to be made, and a temporary crown is installed until the permanent crown is ready.

During the second visit, the permanent crown is checked to ensure it is the proper shape, size and color. Once this has been done, the dentist may numb the patient to ensure there is no discomfort. After this has been done, the new crown will be installed and permanently placed with special cement.

The Life Span Of A Crown

Crowns generally last approximately five to 15 years. This depends on wear and tear on the crown, oral hygiene and more. Individuals must remember that the tooth is still prone to decay, thus brushing and flossing remain of great importance. In addition, grinding of the teeth, biting fingernails and chewing ice can all impact the life span of the crown.

Only a dentist can determine when a crown is the optimal solution. He or she takes numerous factors into consideration when making this decision, as other treatment options are available. If you have one or more teeth you feel may benefit from a crown, call us today. We’ll be happy to exam your teeth and gums and make recommendations based on our findings. We want to help you achieve your goals when it comes to your smile and oral health and will work with you to discover the treatment options that make the most sense for you.

If you have any questions regarding our crown services at our Washington D.C. office or have any questions regarding our many other dental services call the Washington Center for Cosmetic Dentistry at (202) 363-2500 or send us your name and email address via our website to schedule an appointment, you can also visit our dental services page to learn more about our full scope of services provided.