What is a crown?

Crowns are ideal way to rebuild teeth which have been broken, or have been weakened by decay or a very large filling. The crown fits right over the remaining part of the tooth, making it strong and giving it the shape and contour of a natural tooth. People sometimes refer to crowns as 'caps'.

Why would I need a crown?

There are a number of reasons. For instance:

What are crowns made of?

Crowns are made of a variety of materials and new materials are being introduced all the time. At Gentle Dental Care we offer the following options.

How is a tooth prepared for a crown?

The dentist will prepare the tooth to the ideal shape for the crown.  This will mean removing some of the outer surface, leaving a strong inner ‘core’. The amount of the tooth removed will be the same as the thickness of the crown to be fitted.

Once the tooth is shaped, the dentist will take an impression of the prepared tooth, one of the opposite jaw and possibly another to mark the way you bite together.  The impressions will be given to the technician, along with any other information they need to make the crown. This may sometimes involve taking photographs to ensure an acurate colour match.

Who makes the crown?

The impressions and information about the shade of your teeth will be given to a dental technician. They will make models of your mouth and make the crown on these to be sure that the crown fits perfectly. Here at Gentle Dental Care we use a small family owned laboratory based in Carlisle who produce work of the highest quality. They deal with low volumes and only work with a small number of dentists.

Will the crown be noticeable?

No the crown will not be obvious and every attempt will be made to match your other teeth. Sometimes photographs are taken to ensure the laboratory technician creates the best possible match. In rare circumstances the patient is advised to meet with the technician in order to get the ideal result.

A temporary crown, usually made in plastic, will be fitted at the end of the first appointment to last until the permanent one is ready.  These temporary crowns may be more noticeable, but they are only in place for about two weeks.

How long does the treatment take?

You will need to have at least two visits: the first for the preparation, impression, shade taking and fitting the temporary crown, and the second to fit the permanent crown.

Does it hurt to have a tooth prepared for a crown?

No.  A local anaesthetic is used and the preparation should feel no different from a filling.  If the tooth does not have a nerve, and a post crown is being prepared, then local anaesthetic may not be needed.

Are post crowns different?

Post crowns may be used when the tooth has been root filled and there isn’t enough tooth above the gum to hold a crown.  Depending on the amount of tooth remaining, the dentist can either use a pre-fabricated post or one constructed by a dental technician.

The post will sit above the gum and provide enough substance for a crown to adhere to.  The success rates for post crowns are not as high as for a conventional crown but in some cases the only other alternative would be to remove the tooth and consider a dental implant.

How long will a crown last?

The life of a crown will depend on how well it is looked after.  The crown itself cannot decay, but decay can start where the edge of the crown joins the tooth.  It is very important to keep this area as clean as your other teeth, or decay could endanger the crown. Here at Gentle Dental Care in St. Andrews we would only usually recommend crowns if your risk of tooth decay has been reduced.

How are crowns fixed to teeth?

Once the fit and appearance of the crown has been checked – and approved by you – it will be cemented in place with special dental adhesive.  The adhesive also forms a seal to help hold it firmly in place.

Will the crown feel different?

Because the shape of the crown will be slightly different from the shape of your tooth before it was crowned, you may be aware of it to begin with.  Within a few days it should feel fine, and you will not notice it.  Sometimes the crown may feel slightly high in the bite.  Usually this will resolve within 10 days and the crown will need no adjustment.  If it still does not feel right after this time has elapsed then please ask your dentist to check and adjust it.

Is there an alternative to a crown?

A veneer at the front of your mouth may be an alternative to having a crown if the tooth has only a small filling. Your dentist will advise you of any suitable alternatives. Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

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