What Is a dental crown?

Dental crowns may sound intimidating, but they’re a safe and effective procedure that’s relatively common for restoring a tooth. Not only can they help you avoid having a root canal or an extraction, but they can also restore the look of your original tooth. 

At Smiles on 34th, we want all of your visits to be comfortable. We’re always happy to discuss our treatment recommendations, including crowns. A crown is just a cap that’s placed over a damaged tooth to protect and cover the remaining section. It can restore the shape, colour, and size of your tooth much more effectively than fillings.

Why might you need a crown?

We recommend crowns when the tooth is too far gone for a standard filling. This might be the case if you’ve sustained damage to your tooth, have significant decay, or have suffered an injury. A crown protects a weak tooth from breaking further, like if you’ve required multiple or large fillings. 

Sometimes, crowns are used to hold a dental bridge in place or to cover teeth that are misshapen or discoloured. A crown can also cover up and protect an implant. As well, crowns effectively restore the size and shape of teeth that have been severely worn down, as can happen over time or with age.

What is a crown?

A crown is like a cap that’s placed over top of the remaining tooth and cemented into place permanently. Traditional crowns cover the entire tooth, while partial crowns are sometimes used if a regular filling isn’t sufficient but there’s still a solid tooth structure. 

Crowns can be made from various materials, although porcelain tends to be the most common. We’ll make a recommendation based on your individual circumstances.

Metal: Metal is the longest-lasting crown material as it rarely chips or breaks. It can withstand a lot of force from chewing and biting, yet is thin enough to require the least amount of existing tooth to be removed. However, metal crowns can’t be made in natural tooth colours so they’re most suitable for back molars. They can also cause allergic reactions in patients with metal sensitivities. 

Porcelain or ceramic: These options are best for accurate colour-matching and don’t include metals that can cause reactions. They sometimes wear down the teeth opposite the crown, and aren’t as strong as other materials. Pressed ceramic is more durable because it includes a hard inner core, but offers the same great colour-matching ability. Cosmetically, these are all excellent options for restoring your smile.

Porcelain fused to metal: These crowns blend the durability of metal with the natural tooth colours of porcelain. They’re a good choice for patients without metal sensitivities, although they can show a thin dark line of metal at the base that makes them less suitable for front teeth.

All resin: This is generally the least expensive option, but is prone to breaking and wears out faster than other materials, requiring future care at an additional cost.

The procedure

Being fitted for a crown usually requires two visits to our office. There may be some mild discomfort but you shouldn’t experience any pain.

During the first visit, we’ll examine and prepare the tooth to receive a crown. This usually includes an x-ray to evaluate the tooth and surrounding bone. If there’s significant decay or risk for infection, you may require a root canal to remove the tooth’s inner tissues (or pulp). 

We will also file down the existing tooth to make space for the crown to fit over it. By taking an impression of the tooth and surrounding area, we can ensure the fit of your new crown won’t adversely affect your bite.

Finally, we’ll place a temporary crown over the prepared tooth to cover and protect it while your permanent crown is being made. 

On your second visit, this temporary crown will be removed. After checking the fit and colour of your permanent crown, your tooth will be numbed with anesthetic and the new crown will be cemented into place.

Risks and concerns

New crowns are often sensitive, particularly soon after the anesthetic wears off. You may wish to switch to a sensitivity toothpaste. If you experience pain when biting, give us a call. This usually means that the crown is sitting too high, and can easily be adjusted in our office. 

You’ll want to take care to avoid jarring or chipping your new crown. Small chips are sometimes repairable but larger or multiple chips might require a new crown.

If your crown feels loose or falls off, you’ll need to book an appointment with us. A loose crown can allow bacteria to seep in underneath, causing decay in the remaining natural tooth. If your crown falls off entirely, we may be able to recement it, or you might need to be fitted for a new crown.

In extremely rare cases, some patients experience an allergic reaction to the metal or other materials used in a crown. Seek medical attention immediately if this is the case.

How to care for your crown

Our patients tend to be very happy with their new crowns! This restorative procedure enables us to fix a problem tooth with a cosmetically-appealing and colour-matched replacement.

If you take care of your crown, it can last you at least 5 to 15 years, or even longer. Avoid grinding and clenching your teeth and don’t chew on ice. It’s also best to avoid opening packages with your teeth or biting your nails. Sticky foods like caramel can tug at your crown and aren’t recommended.

Stick to your regular oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing. It’s best to slide the floss out from between your teeth and crown instead of lifting it.

Don’t be intimidated

A crown may sound like a scary procedure, but it’s actually a fairly common one. If you have a cracked or chipped tooth or have had significant decay, a crown may be the right solution to restore your smile to its original beauty. Find out how we’ll make the procedure as comfortable as possible for you.