What is a dental crown?
A dental crown is a covering for an existing tooth. It can improve the way a decayed or broken tooth looks and make it stronger and longer lasting. Crowns are usually made from porcelain, ceramic, glass or metal.
When might you need a dental crown?
Dental crowns can be used to cover a broken or decayed tooth when too much of the original tooth is missing, such as after root canal treatment. They are also used to protect a weak tooth from breaking, and to cover stained or badly shaped teeth or to hold a bridge or denture in place
What happens during a dental crown procedure?
The dentist will usually prepare the tooth by removing a layer of its outer surface. The crown will be the same thickness as the thickness of this removed layer.
To make a crown, the dentist takes a mould of the tooth and sends it away to a technician who will prepare the crown. It can often be matched to the colour of the other teeth, so it will blend in.
You might be given a temporary crown to get you through until the permanent crown is made.
When the permanent crown is ready, the dentist fits it in place using dental cement or adhesive.
How do you care for your dental crown?
Although your crown cannot decay, the edge of the tooth on which it sits can. You will need to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and floss your teeth, as is usually recommended.
What are the benefits and risks of a dental crown procedure?
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.
But sometimes they 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.
Are there alternatives to dental crowns?
There are alternatives to dental crowns. If you want to improve discolouration, then veneers — which are thin layers fixed onto the front surface of a tooth — might be an option. If your tooth is chipped, your dentist may also try to rebuild your tooth structure using filling material.
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Last reviewed: March 2021