01 Dec Dental Crowns: Restoring a Healthy Smile
Damaged or missing teeth can cause a lot of problems not just within the mouth, but the rest of the body as well. A damaged tooth can crack and get infected; avoiding chewing on a damaged tooth can cause other teeth to become cracked and worn; and missing teeth can actually result in the distortion of the whole jaw bone.
Luckily, dentistry has many treatment options to repair and replace damaged and missing teeth. One of these options is a dental crown.
What Is A Dental Crown?
A dental crown is effectively a kind of cap or helmet that gets placed over a damaged tooth. It restores the shape and look of the tooth, while preventing existing damage from worsening.
Dental crowns are typically either made of porcelain or a composite material. Metal alloys are used are sometimes employed for added strength. Gold is a popular choice, not just for appearance, but because it’s a tough and durable metal that will last many decades.
Dental crowns are also used to restore a tooth as part of a dental implant. The crown sits on top of the implant as the final stage of the process.
What’s The Process For Dental Crowns?
The first step will generally be to shave down some of the enamel from the tooth. This allows the crown to sit on top without hitting the teeth on either side.
Next, an impression is made of your teeth. This can be done with manual mould-making materials, or can be performed with laser scanners and 3D printers. These impressions are then used to design the crown. A proper fit is important for a dental crown; an improperly fitted crown can actually break the tooth it’s designed to protect.
There are primarily two ways to make a crown. The traditional method is to make the crown in a lab with a skilled technician. This can take a few days and necessitates two trips to the dentist — one for prep, and another to have the restoration set in place.
The other option is to use a milling machine such as the CEREC machine. These use digital mouth scans and tooth designs to automatically mill a restoration. These crowns can be placed on the same day as your initial visit.
Whatever the method, once the crown has been manufactured it’s cemented onto the tooth.
Are There Alternatives to Crowns?
Inlays and onlays are similar to crowns. Instead of fixing the whole crown of the tooth, they fix a select part of it. Inlays fix the dips in teeth, known as the cusps. Onlays fix the pointed parts of teeth.
The process for inlays and onlays is the same as for a full crown. Benefits include less time to make the restoration and generally lower cost.