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A crown is an artificial restoration that fits over the remaining part of a prepared tooth, protecting it and restoring its natural shape.

Why would I need a crown?

  • To protect a weakened tooth (for instance, from decay) from breaking or to hold together parts of a cracked tooth
  • To restore an already broken tooth or a tooth that has been severely worn down
  • To cover and support a tooth with a large filling when there isn’t a lot of tooth left
  • To cover misshaped or severely discolored teeth
  • To cover a dental implant
  • To make an aesthetic improvement

For children, a crown may be used on baby teeth in order to:

Save a tooth that has been so damaged by decay that it can’t support a filling.
Protect the teeth of a child at high risk for tooth decay, especially when a child has difficulty keeping up with daily oral hygiene.

In such cases, a pediatric dentist is likely to recommend a stainless steel crown.

What types of crowns are available?

  • Metals used in crowns include gold alloy, other alloys (for example, palladium), or a base-metal alloy (for example, nickel or chromium). Metal crowns are a good choice for back teeth.
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crowns can be color matched to your adjacent teeth (unlike the metallic crowns). These crowns can be a good choice for front and back teeth.
  • All-resin dental crowns are less expensive than other crown types. However, they wear down over time and are more prone to fractures than porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns.
  • All-ceramic or all-porcelain dental crowns provide better natural color match than any other crown type and may be more suitable for people with metal allergies. All-ceramic crowns may be used at any location.

Clinical procedure:

During the first visit, the tooth/teeth will be prepared; this involves reshaping the tooth/teeth and removing any decay to allow the crown to be placed.The amount removed depends on the type of crown used (for instance, all-metal crowns are thinner and require less tooth structure removal than all-porcelain or porcelain-fused-to-metal ones). If, on the other hand, a large area of the tooth is missing (due to decay or damage), your dentist will use filling material to “build up” the tooth to support the crown.

Impressions are taken and sent to a dental laboratory where the crown will be manufactured. The crown is usually returned to your dentist’s office in two weeks. If the crown is made of porcelain, your dentist will also select the shade that most closely matches the colour of the neighboring teeth. During this first visit your dentist will make a temporary crown to cover and protect the prepared tooth while the permanent crown is being made. Temporary crowns are usually made of acrylic and are held in place using a temporary cement.

At the second visit, your dentist will remove the temporary crown and check the fit and colour of the permanent crown. If everything is acceptable, a local anesthetic will be used to numb the tooth and the new crown is permanently cemented in place.

How long do crowns last?

On average, dental crowns last between 5 and 15 years. The life span of a crown depends on the amount of “wear and tear” the crown is exposed to, how well you follow good oral hygiene instructions, and your personal mouth-related habits (you should avoid such habits as grinding or clenching your teeth, biting nails/pens etc).