What is a Dental Crown?

A dental crown is a type of dental restoration that serves as a component in many different types of restorative treatments. Dental crowns are also known as “caps,” which fit on top of existing teeth or over dental implants. Dental crowns are most often made of porcelain, a material that is both strong and non-porous (thus more resistant to staining than tooth enamel), and reflects light in much the same way as a natural tooth.

When a the tooth is broken or cracked, the enamel (outer layer of the tooth) is compromised, and the interior portion of the tooth is then susceptible to bacteria and decay. If left untreated, it could lead to a dental emergency or tooth loss. Thus, dental crowns are then needed to protect the tooth from further damage, and to prevent the tooth from breaking beyond repair. Crowns are also placed when the tooth has a high probability of breaking or fracturing, such as those with existing large restorations.

Dental crowns are often needed after root canal therapy, and are also used when creating a dental bridge, or are placed over a dental implant when replacing a tooth. Dental crowns can be used as an alternative to dental veneers when correcting issues such as broken or chipped tooth.

What are the steps involved in a Dental Crown?

If the dental crown will be placed over your original tooth, such as with dental bridges and root canal treated teeth, the tooth or teeth must be prepared so that the crown can fit snugly on top of the tooth structure. Tooth preparation and the delivery of the permanent crown are usually done in two steps.

First, your dentist will numb the area to be treated with local anesthetic. Next, they will reshape the outside tooth by shaving and removing enough of the tooth material to allow the crown to sit on top and fit with the rest of your teeth. Once this process is complete, your dentist will take an impression of your teeth, which will be sent to a dental laboratory where a permanent crown will be created to match your smile. Your dentist will create and place a temporary crown to seal and protect the tooth temporarily until your permanent crown is ready for placement.

During the placement of the permanent crown, your dentist will remove the temporary crown, ensure the prepared tooth is clean, and the permanent crown is seated over the prepared tooth. Your dentist may need to make adjustments to ensure your crown fits and feels natural in your mouth before permanently cementing the crown into place.

Dental Crowns for Children

Sometimes, following a pulpotomy procedure, also known as a baby root canal for a baby tooth, the dentist may recommend placement of a stainless steel or tooth-colored crown to protect the tooth from further damage or decay.  In these situations, the crown will stay on the tooth and will remain until the baby tooth falls out naturally with time.