Has your dentist said you need a dental crown or cap? Dental Crowns are essentially a replica of your existing tooth and are a common treatment that protects your teeth if they’ve been damaged. It also restores the structure of your teeth, enhancing their look and function. What happens when you need a dental crown on one of your teeth? What’s the process like? And how closely will your crown look to your natural teeth?
Why Would I Need a Crown?
The enamel on your teeth is the hardest structure in your body, but it can still be damaged by injury or decay. Dental crowns are designed to help repair that damage. When one of your teeth gets a very large cavity, needs a root canal, cracks, or breaks, you’ll likely need a crown.
Your teeth might need a crown for a variety of reasons:
- Decay from poor oral hygiene or improper brushing techniques
- Excessive sugar consumption
- Chewing/eating foods that are too hard (ice cubes and popcorn kernels are common culprits)
- Physical trauma, such as an injury during sports or car accident
- Healing from a root canal
Your mouth hosts a variety of bacteria that helps you digest food. But it also hosts bad bacteria that can cause damage. When you eat, that bacteria interacts with the sugars in your food. The two combine to form plaque, a sticky substance that adheres to your teeth.
When plaque remains on your teeth for an extended period of time it aggravates the gums, causes inflammation and begins to eat away at the enamel protecting the outer layer of your teeth. This is a dental cavity; essentially a hole in the enamel. If caught early during a 6-month checkup, a simple filling can clean out the bacteria and seal the tooth. Left untreated, the decay will reach all the way to the sensitive nerve inside your tooth.
What’s the Difference Between Crowns and Veneers?
Crowns are designed to fix larger issues like cavities and cracks, as discussed above. They completely cover the original tooth to protect the nerves in the pulp. A set of veneers, on the other hand, are more cosmetic. They’re designed to improve minor damage or discoloration and generally fit only over the biting edge of your teeth.
Both crowns and veneers require regular brushing and flossing to maintain their color and your overall oral hygiene.
How Do Dentists Create Crowns?
To place a crown, a dentist will need to clean out the decay, remove any old fillings or cracks in the tooth, and shave a very small amount of tooth to make room for the crown without it feeling bulky or affecting your bite. They will then take an impression, sometimes digitally, and send it to the lab.
In the meantime, the dental assistant will create a temporary crown to keep your tooth clean and covered.
What Are Crowns Made Of?
In the past, crowns were typically metal with porcelain layered on top. Very commonly, the porcelain would break off and expose the metal underneath. You would also be able to see a gray line at the edge of the crown. Getting these crowns to look good was a challenge.
Today, crowns are made of zirconia, a stronger and much better-looking material. They are far less likely to chip and can also achieve much better aesthetics. Crowns can also be made of a gold alloy, but you must be sure to ask your dentist because the preparation of the tooth changes slightly, as does the cost based on the current price of gold.
How Close Can Dental Crowns Look to Real Teeth?
Done well, your dental crown will blend effortlessly with the rest of your teeth. The advanced technology behind crowns makes it difficult to distinguish them from your natural teeth. Even for front teeth, using layered zirconia can achieve a very high polish and look that no one will likely notice unless you tell them.
Dental crowns are the best way to repair teeth with extensive damage or prevent teeth from breaking, while also looking just as good (or better) than your other teeth.
Dental crowns are a very common procedure. The best way to ensure that you will have a natural-looking crown is to visit a dentist who specializes in cosmetic dentistry. These experts regularly use crowns and veneers to bring out movie star quality smiles in their patients, and they can do the same to help your crown match the color of your surrounding teeth.