When a tooth is cracked, decayed, or damaged, a crown may need to be fitted onto the tooth. A crown is a permanent covering that fits over the original tooth. Crowns can be made of porcelain, gold and other metals, acrylic resin, or an amalgam (a mix) of these materials. Porcelain crowns typically have the most realistic appearance, although they tend to be less durable than other materials. Crowns can whiten, reshape, and realign existing teeth, adding to a healthy and vibrant smile.
Preparing the Tooth and Crown
During your first visit, the dentist will numb the tooth to be crowned and remove the decay in or around it. The tooth is then rescultped to provide an easy fit for the crown. This is a painless process that is performed in the dentist's chair.
An impression of your teeth is then taken and sent to the dental lab where permanent, custom-made crowns are created (this usually takes one to two weeks). During this interim period, temporary crowns made of an acrylic resin are fitted onto the teeth.
Applying the Crown
On your next visit, the dentist removes the temporary crown and fits the permanent crown onto the teeth. He or she makes sure the crown has the proper look and fit, and then cements the crown into place.
Maintaining Your New Crown
The proper dental hygiene for normal teeth should be applied to your new crown. Daily brushing and flossing will help to keep the teeth, gums, and new crown free from the bacteria that can cause gum disease. Avoid chewing on hard foods such as ice or pistachios, which, over time, can cause crowns to crack or break. Given proper care, crowns can last several decades, and may last a lifetime.