Dental Crowns: Preserving Damaged Teeth
Dental crowns, also known as "caps," preserve the functionality of damaged teeth. This common dental restoration may be used to protect a cracked tooth, restore functionality of a tooth with excessive decay or replace a pre-existing crown. It encases a needy tooth with a custom-designed material. Dentists today have a variety of conservative treatment options through which to restore teeth. If possible, these options should be explored and discussed before selecting the full coverage crown.
Consultation and Treatment Planning
If tooth decay or damage is so extensive that veneers, direct composite bonding or other conservative treatments aren't viable treatment options — or if you have undergone root canal therapy — your dentist will consult with you about dental crowns. Whether used to restore a damaged tooth or to create a lifelike tooth replacement for an implant, crowns can be fabricated in dental laboratories or in your dentist's office, depending on the material.
Part of your consultation may involve taking impressions of your existing tooth (or teeth) as a basis for creating the shape and size of your restoration(s). If crowns will be used as part of a smile makeover, these impressions are used to make models for designing the new length, shape and alignment of your teeth, so that you can preview your new smile before committing to treatment.
Your dentist also will describe the tooth preparation process, as well as your options with regard to local anesthesia (to numb your teeth and surrounding areas) and sedation dentistry, if necessary. If your treatment involves placement of a temporary crown, your dentist will advise you of how long you will need to have the temporary in place and what hygiene steps to take to ensure functionality.
The Procedure - How it Works
To perform the crown procedure, your dentist prepares the tooth and makes a molded impression of the teeth to send to a dental laboratory. A fitted, temporary crown is created during this visit to temporarily protect the tooth while the final restoration is being made in the dental laboratory. Once completed, the crown can be cemented or adhesively bonded at a later visit.
A recent technology, CAD/CAM technology (computer-aided design/manufacturing technology) has evolved to display a 3-D picture of the teeth. A restoration is then created through milling of a ceramic block. If this technology is located in the dental office (chair-side CAD/CAM), there will be no need for a temporary or return visit for the final cementation.