Although dental crowns are one of the most common restorations, many people are still unsure what exactly a crown is and why they are sometimes necessary. A crown– which is a cap placed over a damaged tooth– is often a good option to extend the life of a tooth for many years. In addition to their functional purpose of strengthening the tooth and extending its life, dental crowns also serve an aesthetic purpose. They restore the tooth to its original shape and size, thereby vastly improving the damaged tooth’s appearance. So, when is a dental crown necessary? Consider the following scenarios when a crown is often recommended:
- Post root canal. Because a root canal procedure hollows out the tooth, the remaining tooth structure is at risk of fracturing. Thus, a crown is typically necessary following root canal treatment to strengthen the tooth and prevent breakage.
- Large cavity or filling replacement. When cavities are so large that they cover at least half the width of the tooth, a crown is often necessary because the remaining tooth is weakened and at risk of fracture. Additionally, sometimes sizable old fillings need to be replaced with a crown, particularly if there are signs of fracture or stress around the filling or if there’s very little original tooth remaining.
- Improving appearance. Sometimes, dental crowns are used to improve the appearance of teeth that are discolored or misshapen. They can also be used to improve the look of teeth that have large spaces in between them. Dental crowns are a conservative and effective way to enhance a less than desirable smile, thereby boosting patients’ confidence.
- Excessively worn teeth. Several factors can cause excessive wearing of the teeth and ultimately lead to the need for a crown. For example, patients who suffer from bruxism– or chronic clenching and grinding of the teeth– can cause their teeth to get shorter over time. Additionally, a highly acidic diet and gastrointestinal reflux can cause acid erosion of the teeth. Over time, acid erosion results in the wearing away of the enamel, leaving soft and exposed teeth. In these cases, crowns are often used to restore the teeth.
- Preventative measure. So far, we’ve discussed scenarios in which dental crowns are used to repair damaged teeth. However, crowns are also sometimes used as a preventative measure to prevent fractures from occurring in weak or otherwise at-risk teeth.
What can I expect during a dental crown procedure?
While few people look forward to having dental procedures performed, knowing what to expect in advance can often help ease anxiety and make you feel more prepared. To begin the procedure, your dentist will use local anesthesia to help minimize any pain or discomfort. Depending on the tooth’s condition in question, it might first need a filling to help restore enough of the tooth so that the crown has something to hold onto. Next, your dentist will make room for the crown by shaving the tooth down; then, they will make an impression of the affected tooth. To ensure that the crown matches the natural color of your teeth as closely as possible, the dentist will use a shade guide or take pictures to send to the lab technician. Then, a temporary crown will be placed on the tooth, concluding the first appointment.
A few weeks later, it will be time to trade in your temporary crown for a permanent one. After removing the temporary crown, your dentist will place the permanent crown on the tooth and check it to ensure a proper fit. Finally, the crown will be held in place with permanent cement or dental glue, and voila! Your damaged tooth is restored.
If you think you might need a dental crown or have any questions about the procedure, please contact TruBlu Dentistry in Burbank, IL today to learn how we can help.