Dental crowns are one of the many ways a dentist can help to restore your teeth to their natural state.
The dental crown restoration is typically recommended when a tooth requires a large filling that exceeds the natural tooth structure. It can also be applied in conjunction with root canal therapy, or a combination of a root canal and dental filling.
Broadly speaking, the placement of a dental crown involves a three-stage process:
- Stage 1: Tooth preparation and taking an impression of the tooth
- Stage 2: Fabricating the custom-made crown at a dental lab
- Stage 3: Fitting of the final restoration
The entire procedure requires a couple of visits to the dentist. However, modern advances in dental technology have allowed some dentists to fabricate their own crowns and fix them in a single visit to the dentist.
Note: The 3-stage procedure is typically carried out over two appointments.
Let’s take a closer look at what the three stages involve:
Stage 1: Tooth preparation and taking an impression of the tooth
On the first visit, the dentist may take several x-rays to check the roots of the treated tooth as well as the surrounding bone. This is done for the purpose of preparing the site to receive the dental crown.
If the dentist finds that the tooth has suffered extensive decay or determines a risk of injury or infection of the pulp of the tooth, a root canal may first be required. This would require the patient to make additional visits to the dentist.
Next, the dentist will proceed to anaesthetise the tooth as well as the surrounding gum tissue. In preparing the tooth to receive the final crown restoration, the doctor will file the existing tooth structure along the chewing surface and sides to create more space to accommodate the crown.
The amount of tooth structure that needs to be removed will depend on the type of material used.For example, all-metal crowns are thinner and therefore require less removal as compared to all-porcelain or porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) materials.
If a large area of the tooth is missing due to damage or decay, the dentist will need to reinforce the original tooth structure with filling material.
Once that is done, the dentist will take an impression of the tooth and surrounding area. Impressions of the teeth above and below the crown will also be taken to ensure that the crown does not affect your bite.
During this visit, the dentist will also make a temporary crown to protect and cover the prepared tooth while the permanent crown is being made. Temporary crowns are typically constructed out of acrylic and held in place with a temporary cement.
Stage 2: Fabricating the custom-made crown at a dental lab
Serving as the blueprint of your teeth structure, the impressions will supply all the precise dimensions required for creating the customised crown. It will be sent to a dental lab for the fabrication, or may be developed in house, as mentioned.
The crown will typically be sent back to the dentist’s office within 1-2 weeks.
If the crown is made out of porcelain, the dentist will also select the shade that closely matches the colour of the neighbouring teeth, so that the new crown will blend seamlessly when placed in position.
Stage 3: Fitting of the final restoration
During your second visit, the dentist will remove the temporary crown to make way for the permanent crown to be fitted.
First the clinician will check the colour and fit of the permanent crown, making slight adjustments where necessary. If everything is found to be acceptable, he or she would proceed to cement the new crown permanently in place.
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