What Is a Crown?
A dental crown is a synthetic cap that is placed over a damaged tooth to restore its shape and function. A crown encases the entire visible part of the tooth to the gum line, protecting it from decay. It doesn’t protect against gum disease, though, so a patient still needs to continue proper oral hygiene.
Why Get a Crown?
Crowns can be used to cover discolored or misshapen teeth for cosmetic reasons; however, they are more often applied for functional reasons. Crowns can protect weak teeth from breaking, restore teeth that are already broken, or hold bridges in place. A crown can also be used to support a tooth that has had a root canal or to cover a dental implant.
What Types of Crowns Are Available?
Crowns can be all metal, all porcelain, or porcelain fused to metal (PFM). Your dentist will explain the pros and cons of each type and assist in determining the best choice for you.
All-metal crowns are very strong and resist wear. They can be a good choice for back molars where cosmetic appearance is of little concern.
All-porcelain crowns offer the best match to your natural teeth. They are a good choice for visible teeth and for people with metal allergies.
PFM crowns are made by covering a metal crown with porcelain. A hybrid of the two types, these combine the strength of metal crowns with the aesthetic benefits of porcelain crowns.
In the past, getting a crown would usually take two visits – a first visit to create impressions and a second visit to place the new crown. Today, CAD/CAM (Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing) technology allows your dentist to place a crown in just one visit. The software uses a picture of the tooth to create a virtual, 3-D crown, and a computer uses the data to mill the crown in just a few minutes. Studies have shown that CAD/CAM tooth restorations are just as successful as those made using traditional techniques. The technology can also assist your dentist in preserving more of your existing tooth.