What is a dental crown?
A crown is a ‘cap’ that fits over a tooth. It provides the tooth with strength and can improve its appearance, shape or alignment. They can be made from a number of different materials, including metal, resin, composite (a combination of metal and porcelain), porcelain or ceramic. The most natural-looking crowns are usually porcelain or ceramic, but these are also the more expensive materials to work with. If you choose to have the procedure done on the NHS, then you are unlikely to have a choice about the materials used.
When might you require a crown?
There are multiple indications for crowns. Some of the common ones include:
- To strengthen a tooth after it has had root canal treatment
- Trauma – to restore broken teeth
- To strengthen teeth with very large fillings
- To improve the appearance of discoloured teeth or to improve the shape of teeth
- As part of a bridge (click here for more information on bridges)
- On top of an implant
What is the process of having a crown fitted?
Fitting a crown generally requires at least two visits to your dentist. The first visit will involve your dentist taking a mould from your mouth so that a lab can prepare the crown to exactly the size and shape required. Your dentist will usually also prepare the tooth for the fitting at this time, by clearing away any remaining decay from the affected tooth and sometimes a little reshaping of the tooth is required, so that the crown can be securely fixed at the next visit.
The second visit to finish the process is often a few weeks after the first, to give the laboratory sufficient time to create the crown. Your dentist will fit the crown and once they are happy with the positioning, and that the colour, size and shape of the crown are a good fit with your other teeth, it can be cemented into place.
How long should a crown last?
The length of time that your crown lasts is a result of how well you look after it. Depending on the material used for the crown, your dentist will be able to advise the length of time it’s expected to last. In most cases, they will last for over 10 years, and sometimes no further treatment is ever required on the tooth in question. The advice is to treat teeth with crowns in the same way as normal teeth in terms of maintaining good oral hygiene and a good regime of flossing and brushing. If you grind your teeth in your sleep, this could reduce the life of a crown significantly.