One of the many benefits of the continued advancements in dental technology and treatments is the fact that many oral health issues can now be successfully addressed and resolved through restorative dental work. This allows for an individual who is suffering from damage to the structure, function or comfort of their teeth can be restored to a more ideal condition, which can not only improve their appearance but also their health.
There are several reasons for why a tooth may need restorative dental work, primarily including decay or damage. When the amount of restorative work that is needed is relatively small, a dental filling, inlay or onlay may be appropriate. However, when more thorough restorative work is needed, a dental crown may be the better option. Dental crowns can also be placed over healthy teeth in order to anchor a bridge, or over a dental implant that has been placed in the mouth.
What Dental Crowns Are
Also referred to as a cap, a dental crown is a tooth-like structure that is placed over the portion of a dental implant or tooth that is exposed above the gum line. A dental crown is permanently cemented into place. It replaces an entire lack of tooth structure, or unhealthy tooth structure, so that function and comfort is restored. Dental crowns are most commonly used in order to strengthen or repair damaged or decayed teeth, or to improve the color, shape and alignment of teeth.
Dental crowns can be made out of a variety of materials, including porcelain, metal, and ceramic and metal alloy. The type of material that is used is largely dependent upon where the crown will be placed in the mouth, and what purpose it will have (to anchor a bridge or restore a damaged tooth, for example). Your dentist, Dr. Best, will discuss with you the most suitable dental crown material for your specific situation. It is definitely important to understand why a dental crown may be necessary, and whether there are any alternative restorative treatments that might be more appropriate.
Most dental fillings are able to be placed in the mouth during a single office visit, with the dentist preparing the tooth, placing, adjusting and curing the filling during that visit. Dental crowns, however, normally require two office visits, as they are made in dental laboratories based on specifications they receive from your dentist. Normally, your dentist will first prepare the tooth upon which the crown will be placed. This can include removing any decay as well as shaping the tooth so that the crown will fit snugly over it. Then, your dentist will take an impression of your tooth, which will be sent to the dental laboratory. A temporary crown will be placed over the prepared tooth while you wait for the crown to be constructed and returned to the dental office. Once the crown has been made and sent to the dental office, you will return to have it fitted, adjusted and permanently cemented onto the tooth (or implant). The result is the rehabilitated structure and function of that tooth.
While crowns can be used to improve the appearance of teeth, they are not recommended for solely cosmetic purposes. This is largely due to the fact that the procedure for placing a crown upon a tooth is irreversible. Tooth enamel must be removed from the tooth in order to make room for a dental crown, and this enamel cannot ever be regrown or replaced, which means that a tooth prepared for a dental crown will always need some sort of crown or cap over it in the future. This is why alternatives to dental crowns that are being used for cosmetic purposes are thoroughly considered before it is determined that a dental crown is the best, or only, choice. Using dental crowns for cosmetic purposes works well when they are also being used to restore the original shape or strength to the tooth.
A Final Thought
Dental crowns are an immensely helpful, and beneficial, restorative dental procedure in many situations where an individual needs to restore the basic structure, function and comfort of a tooth that has been damaged. However, it is always important to speak to your dentist about the benefits and drawbacks of having a dental crown so that you can ensure you are making the absolute best choice for you.