A crown is a custom made porcelain cover placed over a tooth that is badly damaged or decayed. Crowns may be placed for several reasons, but generally the tooth has been extensively damaged by decay or breakage and filling material can’t replace the missing tooth structure and make the tooth strong enough. A crown may hold together parts of a cracked tooth and can be used to hold a bridge in place. Crowns also are used for cosmetic purposes to cover misshapen or badly discolored teeth.
If you need a crown, you may also need a root canal on the tooth, due to extensive decay or the risk of infection or injury to the tooth’s pulp. Not everyone who needs a crown will also need a root canal. Besides the crown, we may need to build up a foundation to support the crown. A foundation is needed if large areas of the natural tooth structure are decayed, damaged or missing. If you are receiving the crown after root canal treatment, we may decide to insert a post-and-core foundation.
To place a crown, we must file down the tooth to make room for it. After filing down the tooth, an impression of the tooth will be taken. The impression material sets in four or five minutes and is removed. We will also take an impression of the teeth above or below the tooth that will receive the crown, to make sure the crown will not affect your bite.
The impressions are sent to the lab, where the crown is made by a highly skilled American technician. None of our crowns are sent out of the country. During that time, you will have a temporary crown. These crowns are usually made of plastic and are made in the office on the day of your visit. They are not meant to last.
At a second visit, we will remove the temporary crown and test the permanent one. Sometimes crowns need additional polishing or glaze or some other adjustment before they are placed. Once the crown is ready, it’s cemented to your tooth. A crowned tooth is not protected from decay or gum disease. You should continue practicing good oral hygiene.
A bridge is the equivalent of 3 crowns (or more) attached together. It is used to replace one or more missing teeth. The typical bridge consists of a pontic (a filler tooth) that is attached to two surrounding crowns (abutments). Once complete, this appliance is permanently cemented in the mouth and cannot be removed. Without the use of a bridge, spaces in the mouth from missing teeth can cause multiple teeth to shift, lead to biting and/or jaw problems and may spur periodontal disease. Dental bridges safeguard the integrity of existing teeth and help maintain a healthy, vibrant smile.