A dental crown is a cap that is placed over the top of a damaged tooth to help protect it or to make it look better. Crowns are designed to look like teeth. In fact, unless you look closely, spotting a crown can be almost impossible. Once they are in place, crowns cover the entire portion of the tooth that you can see above the gum line. Crowns are commonly used in the following scenarios:
— After a root canal. Root canals weaken teeth and leave them brittle. Covering the remaining part of the tooth with a crown help protect it so it won’t break.
— For teeth with large fillings. If a tooth has an extremely large filling, it is sometimes covered with a crown to help make it stronger.
— When teeth are already cracked or broken. Sometimes crowns are used to hold broken teeth together.
— As an anchor for a dental bridge. Crowns are attached to the teeth on either side of a missing tooth to anchor the bridge to the surrounding teeth.
— As a cover for a dental implant. Crowns are attached to the part of a dental implant that protrudes from the gums, creating a long-lasting replacement for missing teeth.
— To make teeth that are misshapen, discolored or worn down look nicer. Sometimes crowns are used for purely cosmetic reasons. If you have one or more teeth that are not as attractive as they could be, your dentist may decide to use crowns to fix them.
Crowns can be made from resin, metal, porcelain or a combination of two or more materials. Before placing a crown, a dentist will usually take an impression of the patient’s teeth. This impression is then used to design the crown. Most crowns are made off site, although some modern dental offices have machines that can make crowns while you wait.
If your crown is being made off site, your dentist will most likely place a temporary crown to protect the tooth until the permanent crown is finished. After a couple of weeks, when the crown is finished, you can return to the dentist and they will replace the temporary crown with a permanent one instead.
The only real downside to crowns is that they can be quite expensive. Some dental insurance plans cover them, while others do not. It is important to check with your insurance company before you have a crown placed to make sure it is covered by your plan.