Q What is a Crown?
A A crown (or cap) is a type of restoration that can be used to strengthen a tooth that has been previously weakened by decay or an injury. Often, crowns are used when a cavity has become too large to use a filling, the tooth is weakened by a large filling or the patient has experienced an accident or trauma.
Crowns can also be used to improve aesthetics, in which tooth surfaces are brightened or a precious metal is used. Crowns are also called caps for the reason that they fit snugly above the natural tooth structure.
Q Why do I need a crown?
A A crown is advised in the following circumstances:
- If you have had a very large filling, which has weakened your tooth.
- If you have had root canal treatment
- If your tooth is weak as a result of injury, trauma or severe decay
- If your tooth is fractured
- If you are having a dental bridge fitted (the crowns are used to anchor the bridge)
- If you have had a dental implant fitted to replace a single missing tooth
Q What are crowns made from?
A There are many different materials that can be used to make crowns and the material you choose may depend on the location of the tooth, your budget and your style preferences. Some opt for precious metal crowns which are highly visible, while others prefer ceramic or porcelain crowns because they blend in with the natural teeth and are therefore practically invisible.
It is possible to receive all-metal, all-ceramic or a combination of metal fused to ceramic crowns. Porcelain crowns tend to be the most popular as they create attractive aesthetics, but unfortunately, are not as strong as metal crowns. Your dentist can answer questions about the various materials available and help you to choose the best option for you. The options are as follows:
- All metal crowns, made from gold or non-precious metals. These crowns are strong and durable but are highly visible when smiling.
- Porcelain bonded to metal
- All ceramic
- Porcelain bonded to cores made from ceramic zirconium oxide or aluminium oxide.
Q What does the preparation stage involve?
A The tooth surface must initially be prepared in order for the restoration to be a success. The preparation stage involves the following:
- The removal of decayed tissue
- Cleaning of the tooth
- Shaping of the tooth to make space for the new crown.
- The removal of most of the tooth structure, apart from the strong core, which the crown shall be placed over.
- Your dentist will then make an impression of your tooth, which will be sent to the laboratory.
- The crown will then be created using this impression as a template.
Q Does it hurt?
A No, the preparation stage is carried out under local anaesthetic to prevent any pain or discomfort.
Q Who will create my new crown?
A The crown will be made by highly trained dental technicians, using the impression we send over to them. The crown will be shaped and coloured to match your natural teeth.
Q Is the crown discreet?
A Yes, the crown will be matched to the colour of your natural teeth and should blend in perfectly. However, if you choose to have a metal crown, this will obviously be visible.
Temporary crowns are fitted during the period of waiting for manufacture of the permanent crown, but these will be more visible. However, you will only have to wear them for approximately two weeks.
Q How long does the process take?
The treatment involves two sessions, which are usually around 2 weeks apart. The first session is to prepare the tooth and the second stage is to fit the crown.
Q How long do crowns last?
Crowns are meant to last for many years, but it is important that you take good care of the crown by cleaning it as you would a natural tooth. It is not possible for the actual crown to decay, but the area of tooth tissue around the join between the natural tooth and the crown can become decayed. Remember to visit your dentist for regular check-ups.
Q What are post-crowns and how are they different?
A Post-crowns are sometimes used when a patient has had root canal treatment and the root canals have been filled. Simply put, a post-crown is used to hold the crown in place.
Q Are there any alternatives to a post-crown?
A In some cases it may be possible to use dental filling material to create a core, which is designed to support the crown. Your dentist will explain the different options.
Q How are crowns placed?
A Your dentist will ensure that you are happy with the appearance and fitting of the crown before fixing it permanently to your tooth. When you are satisfied, the crown will be placed over the tooth and attached using dental cement.
Q Will the crown feel different?
A Initially, the crown may feel slightly different but this should soon subside. If it still feels strange or uncomfortable after a few days, see your dentist and they may be able to adjust it slightly.
Q How much do crowns cost?
A The cost of a crown depends on the material used and the experience level of your dentist. He/she will be able to discuss prices with you and explain the options available.