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.
There are multiple indications for crowns. Some of the common ones include:
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.
You can get a crown fitted under the NHS or choose to have the dental work done privately. The cost of a crown under the NHS falls into Band 3, the highest band treatment charge. If you choose the NHS treatment, you are unlikely to get a choice over the materials used for the crown, which will usually be a metal and porcelain composite. If you choose to have a crown fitted via private dental treatment, the cost will depend on a number of factors, including:
Crowns fitted privately can cost anywhere from around £250 (equivalent to the current NHS band 3 rate) to over £1,000, depending on the variables above.
What can go wrong with dental crowns
Crowns, like any other form of cosmetic dental treatment, come with risks attached. These can include:
The Dental Law Partnership handles dental negligence claims that deal with the failure of crowns due to:
There are a few reasons why you may develop an infection in the gum after a dental crown. One common cause is when a root canal procedure has not been carried out well and a crown is fitted on top, which can become a site for infection. If the infection is not diagnosed and treated early, it can spread to the bone and involve other surrounding teeth. A dental infection after a crown has been fitted can cause pain and inflammation and will require further treatment.
Another reason why you may develop an infection in the gum after a dental crown procedure is if your dentist caused you some trauma to the gums when carrying out the treatment, which then gets infected. This may happen if an instrument is handled incorrectly, for example, and could be considered dental negligence.
Most dental procedures don’t come with a true guarantee, but if you received NHS treatment then your crown will be guaranteed for 12 months from the treatment date. This means that if future treatment is required or the crown needs to be redone within that period, you won’t have to pay again. Crowns, if the treatment has been carried out to a good standard, usually last for at least five years, and can last several decades. Maintaining good oral hygiene is a great way to help extend the life of a crown.
You may be eligible to sue a dentist for bad, poorly fitted or poorly shaped crowns that result in pain, issues with chewing and biting, and even gum disease and tooth decay. These causes may be due to the dentist’s failure to assess the shape, the fit and aesthetics of the crowns, – and may result in a dental negligence claim.
With any type of dental negligence claim, the amount of compensation that you may be awarded, if successful, will vary widely, depending on the specifics of your case. If your crown has been fitted so poorly that other teeth are being affected and you require extensive further treatment as a direct result, you are likely to receive more compensation than for a less serious outcome of dental negligence.