A porcelain crown is a ‘cap’ used in dental procedures to encase a tooth that is weakened or misshapen. Since crowns are made to look like natural teeth, they are discernible from the rest of your teeth. When properly fitted, crowns can last for up to 15 years.
You will need a dental crown to:
- Protect a worn out tooth from decaying, breaking or falling off.
- Restore the appearance of a broken tooth.
- When your tooth requires a lot of filling but there’s not much tooth left.
- Hold a dental bridge in place.
- Cover extremely discolored teeth or misshaped teeth.
- Cover a dental implant.
- Make cosmetic modifications.
Children can also be fitted with crowns if their teeth are badly decayed or if they can’t keep up with daily oral hygiene.
Types of porcelain crowns
Though materials like stainless steel, gold, other alloys and resin can be used for making crowns, porcelain is the most preferred because of its natural appearance. Different types of porcelain crowns include:
This type has the most resemblance to normal teeth. However, they are best used for back teeth because the metallic portion underneath the porcelain coating will start to show if your gum line recedes. As well, if the porcelain part chips, the metallic part will show.
This type is most suitable for people who are allergic to metals. They offer a better natural look and are thus best for front teeth. They are, however, not as durable as porcelain-fused-metal crowns.
Steps involved in getting a crown
Getting a crown is a two-stage process:
Stage 1: Consultation, examination and preparation
When you first go in for a consultation, your dentist will take x-rays and inspect the underlying structure of the tooth, including the bone. In cases where extensive decay or infection are recognized, other procedures like a root canal might have to be performed.
To prepare the tooth, the dentist will anesthetize the area around the tooth then prepare the tooth to create room for the crown. Using putty, the dentist will take an impression of the decayed tooth as well as other surrounding teeth. The impression will be sent to the lab and used to manufacture the crown.
You will also need to select a color that closely matches your other teeth. It takes 2 to 3 weeks to manufacture the crown. Your dentist will fit you with a temporary acrylic-based crown to protect your tooth during this time.
Stage 2: Fitting the permanent crown
The dentist will take out the temporary crown, check the fit of the new crown and if no adjustments are needed, he will anesthetize you and cement the new crown into place.
Possible problems associated with dental crowns
You might experience some discomfort or sensitivity, which can be remedied with the right toothpaste. If you experience pain when biting down, the dentist can adjust the placement of the crown.
This happens in people who are allergic to metals
Small chips can be fixed with resin. Extensive chipping might be impossible to repair and you’ll need a new crown. Avoid chewing on hard items and you’ll minimize the chances of chipping.
This results when the cement starts to wash out. Decay and infection could result from this so you need to contact your dentist right away if this happens.
Caring for a crowned tooth
To prevent gum disease and protect the underlying tooth from decay, brush and floss your teeth daily and use antibacterial mouthwash.