Dental crowns are one of the most common procedures performed in family dental offices. Despite how prevalent it is, many people are still not fully aware of its real purpose! This uncertainty causes many patients to shudder at the thought of getting a crown on one of their teeth, despite the need for it and benefits of receiving this treatment.
To help shed some light on this particular procedure, here are four of the most common questions that people ask about dental crowns:
1. What materials are used to make dental crowns?
Dental crowns, also known as dental caps, go on top of your damaged tooth to improve its function, make it look like your normal tooth, and help protect the remaining tooth structure.
These are usually made from several materials, including metal alloys, ceramics, porcelain, or composite resin. A dentist will use a special cement to attach the customized crown to the tooth.
2. What dental conditions require dental crowns?
Dentists usually recommend a dental crown if the damage on your tooth is too extensive for a dental filling. While there are many reasons a dental crown may be necessary, here are three of the most common dental conditions that may require treatment with a dental crown.
After Root Canals
Root canal procedures are necessary when the pulp in the roots of a tooth becomes infected, sometimes causing severe tooth pain and/or abscess. Root canal procedures involve hollowing out the canals in the roots of the infected tooth.
In some cases, the opening created when a dentist removes the infection can be filled with standard filling material; however, often the damage is so extensive that the tooth’s structural integrity is compromised. In this case, your dentist may recommend getting a dental crown to protect the remaining tooth.
Excessively worn out teeth
Many factors can contribute to premature or excessive wearing of teeth. Highly acidic diets and gastrointestinal conditions, like Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), can lead to excessive wearing of the enamel. Patients who suffer from bruxism or chronic grinding of teeth can also have excessively worn teeth. This can cause cracks in teeth, temperature sensitivity, pain while chewing, and other issues. Dental crowns on affected teeth can alleviate these symptoms.
A dentist can use dental crowns to improve the appearance of misshapen or discolored teeth. Dental crowns can also close the gaps between teeth, which can be both aesthetically pleasing and functional — food gets trapped more easily in gaps between teeth, leading to greater risk of decay.
3. What is involved in getting a dental crown?
Treatment with dental crowns usually takes at least two dental visits. At a dental cleaning or when you see a dentist due to pain, a dentist may notice a problematic tooth. Sometimes the extent of the decay is difficult to see even in x-rays, but most of the time a dentist will be able to tell right away if the damage can be treated with a filling or if it’s extensive enough to require a dental crown.
Your dentist may need to obtain additional x-rays to confirm the condition of the tooth, surrounding bone and the tooth’s roots. If the x-ray results indicate extensive decay or possible damage to the pulp of your tooth, a dentist may recommend root canal therapy first.
The dentist and an assistant will start by taking an impression of your teeth to make sure the final crown will look and feel the same as the original tooth. The impressions will then be sent to a dental lab that will manufacture the crowns. The process typically takes two to three weeks.
Once the impression is taken, and assuming that root canal treatment is not needed, your dentist will prepare your tooth by removing any damage to the outer portion—called the enamel—to accommodate the crown. If a substantial amount of your tooth is missing due to decay, your dentist will add filling material to build up the tooth enough to hold a crown.
Since you’ll have to wait a couple of weeks for your custom crown to return from the lab, your dentist will protect your remaining tooth by putting on a temporary crown using a temporary cement. The temporary crown is only meant to last a couple of weeks, and because it will not be an exact fit, you may experience some minor sensitivity until you receive the final crown. Try not to chew food on the temporary crown or it may come loose or break. If the temporary crown comes off, it can usually be put back on using a little toothpaste.
During the second visit, your dentist will replace the temporary crown with the permanent crown made using your impressions. The dentist can usually pull the temporary crown off easily, but sometimes it may need to be drilled off. Once the fit, color and shape of the permanent crown are deemed acceptable by you and your dentist, the permanent crown will be fixed on your tooth with permanent dental cement.
Your gums will need to recover from the irritation caused by the procedure, so some minor sensitivity is to be expected, but will subside within a few days.
4. What can I do to prepare for a dental crown procedure?
Dental crown procedures are generally painless with the use of local anesthetic. It is wise, however, to prepare yourself for some sensitivity and discomfort as you wait for teeth to get used to the dental crown.
The first thing to do is to avoid panicking. Dental crowns are relatively simple procedures. On the evening before the procedure, try to get some rest, eat a light meal before your appointment, and arrive on time for your appointment to eliminate stress or anxiety about your appointment.
The temporary dental crown is typically made of acrylic, which will not be as strong as the permanent crown. This means that you should avoid chewing on tough food, such as meats and nuts, or sticky food items, like gum. Given that you will experience some sensitivity, cool down your food before eating it, and avoid frozen delicacies, such as ice cream.
While brushing, take extra care around it to ensure that you don’t dislodge it, as the temporary dental cement will not be as strong as the final application as well.
As you can see, dental crowns are a standard dental procedure that helps people keep their teeth after considerable damage. It also can improve your smile by getting rid of discoloration or closing off unwanted gaps. If done correctly, your dental crown will look and feel just like any of your other teeth and will serve you well for years to come—with proper maintenance, of course.
Are you looking for a dental office near you to get a dental crown on your teeth? Anderson Dental Care provides family dental care for patients in Cincinnati, Ohio. We offer preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dental services to everybody who needs it! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.