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Dental Crowns: Types and Procedures

As time elapses, your teeth can become damaged and lose their shape or size. This can occur for several reasons, including but not limited to tooth decay and injuries. Dental crowns offer a solution for restoring the tooth’s appearance, shape, strength, and size. Tooth-shaped ‘caps,’ dental crowns are cemented onto damaged teeth to “protect, cover, and restore the shape of your teeth when fillings don’t solve the problem.” Typically comprised of ceramics, metals, porcelain, or resin, dental crowns usually don’t necessitate special care aside from routine oral hygiene best practices.

Types of Dental Crowns

To determine the ideal material and type of crown for you, your dentist will take elements into account like the location of your tooth, the position of your gum tissue, the color of the surrounding teeth, and the function of the tooth requiring a crown.

Temporary Crowns
A temporary crown remains in the mouth for a brief time. Using an easily removable adhesive, your dentist places this type of crown -- which is not as strong as a permanent crown -- over your tooth.

Temporary crowns serve as a place holder while you await your permanent crown. Then, once your permanent crown is ready, it’s placed on the tooth at a later appointment.

One-Day Crowns
One-day crowns are ready within a single appointment. These crowns are designed and milled in the dentist’s office from a block of ceramic. Dentists who offer this type of crown utilize same-day crown installation methods like computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM).

Onlay or ¾ Crowns
These crowns are for patients who do not require a full crown. In these circumstances, you may only need a crown that covers a portion of the tooth. So, if you still have a solid tooth structure, your dentist may suggest the more conservative approach of an onlay or 3/4 crown.

Why You May Need a Crown

There are numerous reasons why you may need a dental crown. A crown may be necessary if you have a large cavity that’s too large to be filled. Teeth that are cracked, significantly worn down, misshapen, discolored, or weakened will also require a crown. Moreover, crowns are often recommended following a root canal, as teeth can become significantly fragile and need increased protection. Crowns can also be used to cover a dental implant or to secure a dental bridge in place.

Dental Crown Procedures

The process of installing a dental crown can vary and is mostly dependant on the type of procedure your dentist selects.

Traditionally, it is necessary to visit your dentist’s office two times to have a permanent crown installed. First, your dentist will examine and prep the tooth in need of a crown. They may take X-rays of the tooth or a mold of your tooth or mouth prior. Then, your dentist will file down the tooth, removing part of the tooth’s outer layer. Following this, your dentist will make an impression of the filed down tooth, along with any surrounding teeth. At this point, a temporary crown will be placed over your tooth for protection.

The impression will be sent out to a lab for a crown to be made, which can take multiple weeks. Once the permanent crown is ready, your dentist will cement the crown to your tooth at your second visit.

Skipping over the temporary crown step, your dentist will take digital photos of your mouth during a same-day procedure. With a digital scan from these pictures, your dentist will create your crown in the office. This can take between 1 and 2 hours. Once ready, your dentist will cement the crown in place.

Dental Crown Care

It is essential to take good care of your crown. Giving your crown the attention it needs with good dental hygiene techniques can extend its life.

You can take care of your crown, as well as the rest of your teeth, by:

  • Carefully brushing your teeth twice a day. And if your crown or the teeth surrounding it are particularly sensitive to the heat or cold, you may benefit from using a toothpaste made especially for sensitive teeth.
  • Flossing daily to maintain the excellent health of your teeth and gums.
  • Avoiding hard food (or ice) that may lead you to crack your crown.
  • Using a nightguard to protect your crown and any surrounding teeth if you clench or grind your teeth in the evenings.

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