A dental crown (also referred to as a cap) is a hollow artificial tooth that is placed over an existing tooth.
Permanent & Temporary Crowns
There are many reasons crowns are used, including for cosmetic purposes. They may also be used to secure and protect vulnerable or damaged natural teeth, such as those that are cracked or have large fillings. Crowns can hold dental bridges in place or to cover dental implants. Finally, crowns may be applied after another dental procedure that weakens the tooth structure, such as after a root canal treatment.
Crowns may be temporary or permanent. Temporary crowns are often used as a protective measure for teeth that are at risk of decaying or becoming damaged. While temporary crowns can be designed and created in a dental office, permanent crowns are created in a dental lab. In many cases, crowns restore function and beauty to the teeth.
Types of Crowns
Permanent crowns can be made from a variety of materials, including:
- Porcelain (fused to metal) crowns are often chosen because the colour of the crown can be matched to the surrounding teeth. However, the line of metal under the porcelain layer may be slightly exposed.
- Metal crowns can include materials such as gold, nickel, palladium, and chromium. Metal crowns are extremely durable and will not break, as other materials may, but their main drawback is colouring. Since their colour cannot be changed to match the rest of the teeth, they’re often used on out of sight teeth, such as upper molars.
- All-porcelain and all-ceramic crowns provide excellent colour matching but are not as secure as porcelain fused to metal. They’re often used for front teeth and may also be used if a patient is allergic to metal. All-ceramic or all-porcelain crowns may chip, but small imperfections can typically be smoothed out by your dentist.
- One type of ceramic crown is known as a zirconia crown, which is made from a very durable metal known as zirconium dioxide. Zirconia crowns are stronger than porcelain crowns but can have the esthetic and wear qualities of a porcelain crown.
- Resin crowns are typically less expensive but may wear over time. They may be used as a less permanent crown while other crowns or solutions are being created. For example, they may be used on children’s teeth to preserve spacing between the teeth as they erupt.
There may be specific reasons that your dentist recommends a certain type of material. For example, if a patient is allergic to metal, ceramic or porcelain crowns can be recommended. Cost, durability, aesthetics, and strength are all factors that are considered when choosing a material.
Creating and Applying Dental Crowns
In the first appointment, your dentist will take dental x-rays and assess the health of your mouth. Then, he or she may need to use a filling material to build up the natural tooth if it is missing significant mass. Or, a tooth may need to be reshaped so that a crown can be fitted on top.
Once these steps are complete, an impression of the tooth or teeth will be taken and sent to the dental lab. There, the crown will be constructed based on this customized impression. If the crown is made of porcelain, a colour will be selected to match the colour of your natural teeth.
You may receive a temporary crown (made of acrylic) to protect your teeth while the permanent crown is constructed. This process can take several weeks.
Once the crown is ready, you will arrive for a second appointment. Before a tooth is crowned, your dentist will use a local anesthetic to desensitize the area. The tooth-shaped cap will be fitted over the tooth all the way to the gum line.
Dental Crowns FAQ
Am I a candidate for crowns?
Many people are candidates for dental crowns. However, if you have gum disease or other oral health issues, you may not be a candidate until these issues are resolved. Your dentist must also determine that you have enough remaining tooth material for a crown to be successful (usually about one-third at a minimum).
You should also let your dentist know if you have medical conditions, including allergies (especially metal allergies).
How much do dental crowns cost?
The cost of this treatment will depend on the type of crown selected. Permanent crowns are more expensive than temporary crowns. Costs for permanent crowns range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
Other factors can also impact the cost, such as the amount of prep work a dentist needs to complete before securing the crown. Crowns may or may not be covered under dental plans; be sure to speak with your insurance company to learn more about your specific coverage details.
There may also be other options based on your specific situation; ask your dentist for alternative treatment options.
How do I care for temporary crowns?
A temporary crown is typically made of acrylic and is held in place by temporary dental cement. It’s important not to put too much positive or negative pressure on the temporary crown to prevent it from moving or sliding off the tooth. While you have a temporary crown, avoid sticky, chewy, or hard foods and slide the floss out from between the teeth rather than lifting.
What is the difference between crowns and onlays?
Traditional crowns cover the entire tooth. Meanwhile, onlays and ¾ crowns only cover the tooth partially. These are used when the tooth structure remains solid but is partially damaged or only requires partial coverage. There are many options for crowns, and your dentist will discuss the options that make the most sense for you.
Find a Dentist for Dental Crowns
There are plenty of dentists in the 123Dentist network offering dental crowns near you. Find a dental office in your area.