Crowns, or caps, are one of the more common dental procedures. When a tooth gets weakened by old fillings, cracks, wear, trauma, root canal therapy, or decay, a crown is often the best choice to restore the tooth to health. Crowns can also be placed on front teeth for a variety cosmetic reasons.
Speaking of cosmetic, there are multiple materials that crowns can be made from. Each material has it’s own pros and cons. Cosmetically, porcelain crowns are the closest match to natural teeth. Porcelain can be layered in different shades and characterized to match almost any natural tooth color. Gold crowns are extremely durable and conservative, but many people prefer not to have gold teeth that show when they eat, smile, or laugh. Gold can also be temperature sensitive. The newest generation of crowns, zirconium, are tooth colored with a strength that even rivals gold. The esthetics of zirconium are not quite on par with porcelain, but they are a great combination of tooth color with amazing strength.
Receiving a crown is usually a stress free two dental visit process. At the first visit, the tooth is cleaned up and old cavities and fillings are removed and replaced with new cavity preventing material, called a buildup. The tooth is then artfully prepared or shaped to receive an ideal restoration. Some form of dental impression or digital scan is taken of the tooth to send to a dental lab. While the lab does their work, a tooth colored temporary is placed to protect the newly shaped tooth.
At the second dental visit, the temporary crown is gently removed and the tooth is sterilized. If everything fits correctly and the color is perfect, the crown is “glued on” with cement that helps to prevent future cavities. Finally, the bite is adjusted until everything hits just right.
The most important part of any dental work actually takes place away from the office. Maintenance. The great part about a cap is that it feels, chews, and acts just like a normal tooth. In practical terms, that also means that it can get a cavity just like a normal tooth. There are no metal or porcelain eating bacteria in your mouth, but a crown can get a cavity on the tooth where the crown and tooth meet. That’s why it’s very important to brush and floss around existing crowns just like normal teeth. Fluoride applications also help to keep the crown and tooth junction strong.
Until next week, keep smiling.
-Questions, comments, or suggestions can be sent to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.