How Dental Crowns Improve the Look and Performance of Damaged Teeth
When teeth are damaged, discoloured, or decayed, they can cause severe discomfort and embarrassment. A damaged tooth can cause pain, and people might be self-conscious about the appearance of their damaged teeth. To restore teeth back to their natural look, strength, and function, dentists use dental crowns to cover the damaged tooth.
Dental crowns are often the best option for restoring teeth to become whole again, reducing discomfort and improving smiles. But how do they work, exactly? Let’s find out:
What are Dental Crowns?
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap that covers a damaged tooth above the gum line. Dental crowns are made from a wide variety of materials, including:
- Metal alloys;
- Stainless steel; or,
- A combination of materials.
The chosen material depends on the dentist’s recommendations and the patient’s preference. Each material has its strengths and weaknesses, though. Take a look at some of the pros and cons for these materials below:
Ceramic and Porcelain Crowns
Ceramic and porcelain crowns offer remarkable durability and a lifelike look and texture. They’re also ideal for people who find metal in their mouth irritating.
- PRO: Match natural tooth colour.
- PRO: Recommended for those with metal allergies.
- CON: May wear down neighbouring teeth more than other crown materials.
Combination Porcelain and Metal Crowns
Combination porcelain and metal crowns combine—you guessed it—porcelain and metal for their caps, adding strength and durability to porcelain’s natural look.
- PRO: Porcelain covers the metal crown for a natural look.
- PRO: The metal makes the crown stronger.
- CON: The porcelain may be more prone to cracking.
Once the standard for crowns, metal is less common for more visible teeth these days. It’s still an option, but many patients opt for metal on less-visible teeth.
- PRO: The longest-lasting crowns are metal.
- PRO: Extremely durable, and rarely chip.
- CON: Does not look like a natural tooth.
Resin crowns are a fairly recent development in dentistry. They’re less durable than other materials, but come at a lower price point and get the job done quickly when time and cost are an issue.
- PRO: Cost less than other types of crowns.
- CON: Are weaker and more likely to crack.
- CON: Wear down faster than other crowns, needing a replacement sooner.
Stainless Steel Crowns
Stainless steel crowns are pre-made and incredibly durable, but stand out almost instantly as artificial. They’re a surprisingly good fit for children, though.
- PRO: Good temporary crowns.
- PRO: Ideal for children since these crowns will fall off with the baby teeth.
- CON: Artificial appearance.
When Do You Need Dental Crowns?
Damaged, decayed, or weak teeth are commonly restored using crowns, but that’s not all they’re used for. They provide a host of other benefits that might not be immediately apparent. Beyond standard restorations, crowns are also used to:
- Support existing teeth;
- Fix misaligned teeth;
- Replace misshapen teeth and dental implants;
- Attach a bridge (fills a gap of missing teeth);
- Restore chipped, cracked, or broken teeth;
- Replace teeth worn down from grinding;
- Cover discoloured and stained teeth; and,
- Replace a badly misshapen tooth that doesn’t match the other teeth.
How Dental Crowns are Made
Most crowns typically require two visits to the dentist, though there are some specialized treatments that can install crowns in a single visit. During the first visit, the dentist will:
- Use a local anesthetic to numb the tooth, including neighbouring teeth and the surrounding gum area;
- Remove decay and any restorations from the damaged tooth;
- File down the tooth to be prepared for the crown;
- Fill cavities, if necessary;
- Take an impression of the tooth to make the crown; and,
- Make and fit a temporary crown for use while the permanent crown is being created at a dental lab.
During the second visit, the dentist will:
- Remove the temporary crown;
- Fit the permanent crown comfortably; and,
- Once a fit is comfortable, cement the crown in place.
It’s important to note that a crown literally crowns a tooth. What’s left of your natural tooth will still exist, and can still be affected by decay and damage. Otherwise, your crown looks and acts exactly like your natural tooth would normally!
Dentists strive to create a crown that matches the patient’s teeth. The impression taken during the first visit will ensure sure the crown fits well. This impression is then used to create a crown to the dentist’s specifications at a dental lab. Dentists take a number of factors into consideration when creating a natural-looking and functioning crown, including bite, colour, length, and shape. With a well-fabricated and fitted crown, patients get to enjoy:
- Natural look and function;
- Improved performance;
- Improved appearance;
- Better biting and chewing;
- Strengthened and supported teeth;
- Teeth are protected from further decay, damage, and sensitivity—i.e. from severe cracking;
- Long-lasting tooth restoration—from five to 20 years.
With proper dental hygiene—regular flossing, brushing, and visits to the dentist—the teeth under the dental crowns, along with the rest of the teeth, will remain healthy and avoid decay and discolouration. Patients who have restored their teeth with dental crowns no longer have to worry about the appearance of their teeth, or struggle to eat food.
By eliminating discomfort and embarrassment, dental crowns can improve the quality of life for those who have been suffering from damaged teeth.