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What is a dental crown?

What is a dental crown?

A dental crown, also referred to as a ‘cap’, is a fixed dental restoration that completely covers an existing tooth. It is used to improve the strength and aesthetics of a tooth.

Crowns can be made from several types of materials including resin, porcelain/ceramic, porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) or gold. Each material has its own pros and cons and are selected based on the location of your tooth, your preference, function of the tooth and aesthetics. Your dentist will aim to place a crown that looks natural and fits accurately on the tooth.

When or why do you need one?

Your tooth may require a crown if you:

  • Have a cavity that is too large for a filling
  • Have had root canal treatment done
  • Have a missing tooth and need a bridge
  • Have a tooth that is worn down, chipped or weakened
  • Want to improve the aesthetics of a discoloured or badly shaped tooth
  • Need to cover an implant

How is it placed?

The process of placing a crown on your tooth requires at least 2 appointments with a few steps involved, which are:

  1. Assessment of the tooth – to determine if there is sufficient tooth present to be repaired
  2. Dentist prepares the tooth – the outer surface of your tooth will be filed down slightly to make room for the crown.
  3. An impression/mould is taken – either physically or digitally to provide a model of your tooth for the construction of the crown.
  4. A temporary crown is placed – a temporary cap is placed while waiting for the crown to be made by the lab which usually takes 1-2 weeks.
  5. The lab creates the crown.
  6. Placement of the crown with/without adjustments – your dentist will cement the crown in place once the fit and feel of it is satisfactory to both you and your dentist.

How long does it last?

Depending on how well it’s looked after, the material and the amount of wear and tear, a crown can last for an average of 5-15 years. Crowns can still be subject to chipping, fracture, decay and falling out, so it is important to look after them as you would with your natural teeth. Maintenance of the crown involves regular check ups and cleaning around its margins to ensure it lasts a long time.

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