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Dental crown procedure

6-minute read

Key facts

  • A dental crown is a cap or cover that is specially made and fixed to your tooth.
  • Crowns can help your tooth look and function better.
  • You may need 2 visits to your dentist for a dental crown procedure.
  • Once the crown is fixed in place you can eat normally.

What is a dental crown?

A dental crown is a cap or covering for an existing tooth. It can improve the way a decayed or broken tooth looks and make it stronger. Crowns can be made from porcelain, zirconia, gold alloy or a combination of porcelain and metal.

When might I need a dental crown?

Your dentist or dental specialist (prosthodontist) might suggest a crown procedure if you:

Dental crowns can also be used to cover stained or badly shaped teeth

When should I see my dentist?

If you have painful, cracked or badly decayed teeth, make an appointment to see your dentist. Your dentist might refer you to a prosthodontist if your tooth requires more complex work.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find your nearest dentist or after-hours medical service.

What happens during a dental crown procedure?

Your dental crown procedure is likely to need 1 or 2 visits to the dentist or prosthodontist.

At the first visit, your dentist or prosthodontist will prepare your tooth by removing a layer of its outer surface and shaping it. They will use a local anaesthetic so that you don't feel any pain or discomfort.

Next, they will take a copy of the shape of the tooth. This can be done using an impression pressed into a mould, or by using a digital scanner.

The information may be sent to a lab where a technician will make the crown to fit your tooth. The lab can also match the crown to the colour of your other teeth.

A crown made by a CEREC machine can be made and fitted on the same day.

If the crown is being made in a laboratory, your dentist or prosthodontist will use a temporary crown to cover your affected tooth. It might take 2 to 3 weeks to make your crown.

When your permanent crown is ready, you will return for your second appointment. Your dentist or prosthodontist will fit the crown in place using dental cement or adhesive.

Dental crowns are used to cover a broken or decayed tooth when a filling is not an option.

Illustration of a dental crown procedure.
Dental crowns are used to cover a broken or decayed tooth when a filling is not an option.

How should I care for my dental crown?

Although your dental crown can't decay, the edge of the tooth on which it sits can. You'll still need to brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush and floss your teeth as usual.

Continue with regular visits to your dentist or prosthodontist for check-ups.

What are the benefits and risks of a dental crown?

Crowns are a way of protecting teeth that are weak or have been broken. They also help improve the appearance of teeth that are irregularly shaped or stained. Crowns can last many years if they are cared for properly.

It's possible that your dental crown could break or fall off. This might be because the cement does not hold, or it might be because the tooth under the crown has decayed.

Talk to your dentist or prosthodontist about the costs of a dental crown.

Complications of a dental crown procedure

Some possible complications are:

  • sensitivity after the preparation step
  • altered speech while you adjust to the new shape of your teeth
  • infection or inflammation of the area
  • bleeding, especially if you take blood thinning medicine

ASK YOUR DENTIST — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your health professional.

Are there alternatives to a dental crown?

You could also ask your dentist or prosthodontist about:

  • dentures — removable false teeth
  • a dental bridge — replaces a missing tooth and fixes to remaining teeth
  • veneers — thin layers fixed onto the front surface of your tooth
  • rebuilding your tooth structure using filling material

Resources and support

Find out more about how to care for your teeth at

Talk to your dental professional about the benefits and risks of getting a dental crown.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2023

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