A crown is sometimes called a “cap” and this is an easy way to think about it. A crown is designed to fit over your existing tooth, much like a hard hat that goes on your head to protect what lies underneath.
Why would I want a crown?
A crown is the preferred method of stabilizing a tooth that has had trauma, root canal therapy, large cavities, or large fillings. Crowns are the ultimate tooth stabilizers. They help hold everything together to ensure that you will be able to chew and smile with confidence for years to come.
How does it work?
A crown will e custom designed to fit around what tooth structure you have left to ensure that you will have a tooth to bite on for a longer time. A crown allows you to bite onto one solid material instead of risking breaking the large filling or narrow walls of tooth that remain. If a significant amount of tooth is missing, a “core buildup” may be necessary first. A core buildup is essentially a very large filling that replaces your missing tooth. A core buildup by itself is not a long term option and is simply used to give the crown something to hold onto. Here at NorthStar Dental, we do One Day Crowns whenever we can. This helps minimize sensitivity and allows you the comfort and ease of just one trip to see us. Sometimes a One Day Crown is not the best option, and we will make sure to explain why if that’s your situation. After the crown is placed, we usually recommend eating on the opposite side as much as possible for the next 24 hours. Crowns may cause the tooth to be a little extra sensitive to temperatures and to biting pressure for up to a week. More information: Crowns come in many different types of materials and shades. Traditionally, gold crowns were the standard and later, a type of crown with metal underneath, and porcelain stacked on the metal, became popular because it combined the strength of metal with the esthetics of porcelain. The problem with these porcelain and metal combination crowns is that the porcelain over the metal needed to be a certain thickness or the porcelain would chip off of the metal over time. The other problem is that sometimes the metal underneath the porcelain would create a faint black line around the tooth, which was very unappealing, especially on front teeth. Because of these limitations, several other types of crowns have been developed over the years. Zirconia crowns are a wonderful alternative to the older metal crowns because they can be created in a single layer that is still very strong. It is ideal for back teeth that have a lot of damage or risk of excessive biting forces, because it can withstand a lot of pressure. Zirconia has even replaced metal on porcelain and metal combinations crowns since zirconia is tooth colored, where metal is not. These porcelain and zirconia combinations crowns area ideal for front teeth where we get the added strength of zirconia where you bite together, but the beauty of porcelain on the front that shows when you smile. Porcelain only crowns are a good options for most teeth because they can often be made for a patient in the same day the crown is prepared. At NorthStar Dental, we have a Sirona Omnicam scanner that allows us to scan the prepared tooth and machine your crown in about 15-20 minutes. See our section on digital impressions for more about how the Omnicam makes your crown appointment better than it’s ever been!