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Crowns

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If your tooth has been damaged but not lost entirely, applying a crown can restore its appearance and function.

If your tooth has been damaged but not lost entirely, applying a crown can restore its appearance and function.

Uses for dental crowns

Dental crowns serve the following purposes:

  • Protect a damaged or decayed tooth from breaking
  • Support a tooth that has been structurally injured (e.g. chipped or broken)
  • Restore a tooth to its former functionality while improving its appearance
  • Improve a tooth with a damaged surface
  • Support dental bridges by filling gaps between teeth and stabilising fractured teeth
  • Cover a dental implant

What types of crowns are used for dental restoration work?

Crowns can be made from a variety of materials: metal, ceramic, or a combination of the two. Your dentist will discuss available options to help you decide which one is right for you.

  • Porcelain fused to metal: These two materials combine to create a crown that’s both attractive and long-lasting. Precious metals are preferable because they are biocompatible with your gums, which reduces the risk of inflammation, and less likely to corrode. If you select this option, be aware that if your gum recedes around the crown, the metal will be exposed, creating a black line that can affect your smile.
  • Porcelain:  As crown material, porcelain is both natural-looking and aesthetically pleasing, making it a popular choice for front teeth. It can be chemically bonded with your tooth enamel, creating a strong hold so that you enjoy your new smile longer.
  • Gold: This traditional crown type is known for its durability, making it especially effective for restoring back teeth. Gold will not wear down your opposing teeth, as it has certain characteristics similar to tooth enamel.

How are crowns applied?

After a thorough dental assessment confirms that you should have a crown placed on one or more of your teeth, your dentist will arrange for an appointment. In the interim, he or she will be happy to discuss the treatment with you and answer any questions you may have.

Prior to having the crown(s) put in, you will visit your dentist to have a ceramic impression made of your tooth. He or she will anaesthetise the tooth and the surrounding gum area before shaping it to make room for the crown. The amount of shaping depends on the type of crown you will receive: for example, porcelain ones are thicker and require more tooth alteration than all metal crowns.

The dentist will use a putty or paste to make an impression of the tooth and the ones above or below it to ensure that the crown will not adversely affect your bite. This impression will be sent to a dental lab along with instructions for constructing your crown. In the interim, a temporary crown will be placed over your tooth to protect it and provide aesthetic appeal. When your crown arrives from the ceramist, you will return to your dentist to have it fitted.

How long will a dental crown last?

A crown’s durability depends on the amount of ‘wear and tear’ you expose it to as well as how consistently you practice good oral hygiene. You should also avoid clenching or grinding your teeth. With optimum care, a crown can last anywhere from five to 15 years.