A crown or cap is a dental restoration that covers the exposed surface of a tooth to strengthen it or improve its appearance.
Crowns are designed to match the natural shape and strength of the teeth and can be made up of different types of material.
Crowns may be recommended when teeth are cracked or broken, discolored, misshapen, susceptible to decay or weak due to large or dislodged fillings, or following root canal treatment. Crowns are used to support a dental bridge or may be constructed over a dental implant which is embedded in the bone.
Crowns are made of metal, porcelain fused to metal or porcelain alone. They are usually fabricated in a laboratory.
Your dentist will first evaluate your teeth and obtain X-rays to check the pulp, roots and surrounding bone. If a tooth colored crown or bridge is being made, your dentist will select a shade that exactly matches your teeth. If there is likelihood of infection, a root canal treatment may be recommended before preparing a crown.
To begin preparation, the teeth and gums are anesthetized, and a drill is used to grind down the tooth surfaces to make room for the crown. A tooth may have to be built up with filling material if there is excessive damage or decay. After the teeth are prepared, your dentist will obtain an oral impression with putty or paste to produce a 3-dimensional record of your prepared teeth and soft tissues. The impression or scan along with the selected shade are sent to a laboratory where the crown is fabricated. This usually takes about 1-2 weeks. While your permanent restoration is being made, your doctor will place a temporary crown of acrylic or stainless steel over the prepared teeth.
When the permanent crown is ready, your dentist will remove the temporary one and evaluate the fit and shade of the permanent restoration. If all is acceptable, the crown is permanently fixed with cement.
Some dental clinics have specialized software and equipment to construct a permanent crown in their dental office and place it in a single visit without the need for a temporary crown.
To increase the lifespan of your restoration and maintain your oral health, you are advised to follow good oral hygiene practices and avoid harmful oral habits such as teeth grinding and nail biting. You will be taught specific techniques to keep your crown clean.