Dental Crowns - Provides Form and Function
No one would like to have problems with their teeth. So, we undertake daily hygiene habits to keep our teeth in good shape. Even though we try hard to maintain our teeth in proper condition we still might suffer from teeth problems like decay of the teeth. While small areas of decay can be corrected with fillings, larger areas of decay that has caused excessive tooth structure loss needs to be corrected using dental crowns.
What exactly are Dental Crowns?
Dental Crowns are as the name indicates a protective capping on the tooth that will help prevent breakage of the tooth and restore functionality of the tooth structure.
Indications for Dental Crowns
Dental Crowns will be provided in a variety of situations to replace the lost strength of the tooth and restore function.
A tooth that is grossly destroyed by decay is one of the indications for replacement with dental crowns. In such situations, if a filling is placed, the filling has a high tendency for fracture. There is also the risk of fracture of the tooth. So, in such situations, it is best to use a crown instead of a filling.
A root canal treated tooth is fitted with a crown. This is usually so because the treated tooth becomes brittle over a period of time and has the high risk of fracture. So, a crown is used to protect the tooth from breaking. Another reason is that a root canal treated tooth will slowly discolor over a period of time. So, crowns will also help in improving the esthetics, especially in front teeth.
A tooth broken down due to trauma will be fitted with a crown. This is more so true in case of a front tooth wherein the support provided by the remaining tooth structure is not enough to support a filling.
Types of Dental Crowns
Full Gold Crowns: These crowns are made out of gold and some other alloys. These were highly popular in the olden times when no other options were available. But, these are more expensive compared to other metal crowns. For this reason, the advent of other metal crowns slowly reduced the use of full gold crowns.
Metal Crowns: These are made of a combination of alloys like nickel titanium or chrome cobalt. These have good strength and were preferred for use in the back teeth.
Porcelain Fused To Metal Crowns: These crowns are more in vogue as these have the combination of providing strength while being esthetic as they are tooth colored and can be shade matched to the remaining teeth.
Full Porcelain or Full Ceramic Crowns: Although ceramic and porcelain are esthetic in nature, they cannot be used individually to prepare a crown as they are brittle in nature and can chip off easily exposing the underlying tooth. So, in order to provide it the necessary strength while being esthetic, these materials were combined with embedded zirconium providing for better esthetics. Also, the use of metal is avoided in preparing the crown. However, these crowns are highly expensive.
During the initial visits, the dentist will assess the tooth and discuss with you the procedure in which the crown will be prepared and fitted. If the tooth is highly broken down corrective procedures in the form of root canal treatments and restoration will be first undertaken.
After the tooth has been restored to its original size with a restoration, the tooth will have to be prepared to receive a crown. In case root canal treatment has been undertaken, no sedation will be required. If not, the dentist might anesthetize the tooth area with mild sedation or a local anesthetic.
The tooth preparation will involve reducing the size of the tooth so that it will compensate for the thickness of the crown that will be placed on the tooth. So, the tooth will be reduced on all sides to a thickness of the crown that is being placed.
Once tooth preparation is complete, the dentist will take measurements of the upper and lower teeth and a model will be prepared. This will be sent to the laboratory to prepare the crown to be fitted and this might take a few days.
In the interim, the dentist will fit the tooth with a temporary tooth to prevent drifting of the prepared tooth. It also helps retain esthetics in case of a front tooth. However, you will be advised not to chew on this crown as it might come off or might get damaged.
Once the permanent crown is ready, the temporary one is removed. The crown is checked for fit and then cemented onto the tooth surface to provide function and esthetics.
A newer method involves computer aided crown preparation that can be done in the dentist's office itself negating sending the models to the laboratory for preparing the tooth crown and reducing the number of visits to the dentist to get a crown.
The crown needs regular brushing and flossing like your natural teeth. In case it comes off, it will need to be fitted back in place by the dentist.
These crowns also wear down like your natural teeth and usually have a life span of about 5 to 15 years depending on the type of crown. It also depends on the wear and tear of the natural teeth and will need a replacement if it gets worn down.
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