Crowns are a restoration for teeth, which have been broken, or have been weakened by decay or a very large filling. The crown fits over the remaining part of the tooth, making it strong and giving it the shape and contour of a natural tooth. Crowns are sometimes also known as ‘caps’.
There are a number of reasons to have a crown:
- The tooth may have been weakened by having a very large filling.
- You may have discoloured fillings and would like to improve the appearance of the tooth.
- You may have had a root filling which will require a crown to protect it.
- You may have had an accident and damaged the tooth.
- It may hold a bridge or denture firmly in place.
Crowns are made of a variety of materials, and new materials are continually being introduced. Here are some of the options available at present:
- Porcelain bonded to precious metal: This is what the majority of crowns are made from. A precious metal base is made and porcelain is then applied in layers over it.
- Porcelain: These crowns are not as strong as bonded crowns but they can look very natural and are most often used for front teeth, especially for younger people.
- Gold : These crowns are very strong and hard wearing, but are usually used at the back of the mouth, where they are not visible.
The tooth is prepared to the ideal shape for the crown. This will involve removing most of the outer surface, and leaving a strong inner ‘core’. The amount of the tooth removed will be the same as the thickness of the crown to be fitted. Once the tooth is shaped, an impression is taken of the prepared tooth, one of the opposite jaw and possibly another to mark the way you bite together.
The impression and shade information will be given to a Dental Technician who constucts the crown. Models will be made of your mouth and the crown will be constructed on these in order to ensure that the crown fits perfectly.
The shade of the neighbouring teeth will be recorded, to make sure that the colour looks natural and matches the surrounding teeth. The technician will be able to match the characteristics of your own teeth. A temporary crown, usually made in plastic, will be fitted at the end of the first appointment to last until the definitive one is ready. These temporary crowns may be more noticeable, but they are only a temporary measure.
At least two visits are needed, the first for the preparation, impression, shade taking and fitting the temporary crown, and the second to fit the permanent crown.
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