Crowns are used to replace missing teeth, to rebuild broken teeth, to strengthen a weakened tooth, or to restore a badly decayed, discoloured or misshapen tooth. Crowns can also be used to attach a bridge. In many cases, crowns are used after root canal therapy, and are used to restore portions of the tooth (typically the top surface) removed during treatment. Crowns can be attached to natural teeth or dental implants.
Crowns are synthetic coverings that completely encase the tooth they are attached to. Crowns are also known as caps. They last longer than any other type of tooth restoration, at least 8 to 10 years. Having a crown attached to a tooth is time-consuming, and will require at least two visits to your dentist.
The steps in this procedure are:
The tooth is reduced so the crown will fit over it. An impression of the teeth and gums is made. The impression is sent to the lab so the crown can be made.
A temporary crown is fitted over the tooth.
(Next visit) The temporary crown is removed and the permanent crown is cemented onto the tooth.
Caring for your crowns
Crowns normally last between five and eight years. Many last much longer if you practice good daily oral hygiene. Teeth grinding, chewing ice, or fingernail biting may lower the life expectancy of your crown significantly.
Avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects. Cleaning between your teeth is vital with crowns. Floss or interdental cleaners (specially shaped brushes and sticks) are important tools to remove plaque from the crown area where the gum meets the tooth. Plaque in that area can cause dental decay and gum disease.