A dental crown (sometimes called a cap) is a covering that completely encases the tooth surface, thereby restoring it to the original shape and size—or in some cases, improving the original tooth’s size / shape. A crown provides strength and protection for tooth structure that can’t be effectively restored by fillings or other common procedures.
There are several types of crowns, of which porcelain (tooth colored) crowns are the most popular. Porcelain is a highly durable material, and is probably the closest man made product to the natural enamel found in healthy teeth. Crowns made of porcelain will normally last for many years.
Still, like natural teeth and any type of dental restorations, they may eventually require service or replacement. In short, porcelain crowns are constructed to match the color, size, and shape of your natural teeth—or when done for cosmetic reasons, to improve on your natural smile. With porcelain crowns, your dentist can restore natural, long lasting beauty to your smile.
The process of crowning a tooth normally requires two appointments. During the first appointment, several precise molds (or impressions) will be made. These impressions will be used to fabricate your custom crown. During the process, a temporary crown will be fitted to your tooth. This temporary crown will stay on your tooth for approximately two weeks while your new “permanent” crown is being fabricated by a dental laboratory.
The tooth and adjacent gum will first be anesthetized. While the tooth and gum are numb, your dentist will remove any decay and shape the surface, thereby preparing the tooth to properly mount the crown. When this work is complete, the temporary crown is mounted, using temporary cement. Then your bite will be checked to be sure that your teeth are meeting properly.
When the permanent crown is ready, (probably about two weeks later), your temporary crown is removed, the tooth will be thoroughly cleaned, and your new “permanent” crown will be carefully placed. It will again be checked to ensure that the spacing and bite are correct.
When your permanent crown is in place, you’ll be given detailed care instructions. Don’t forget: even though you now have a “permanent” crown, regular dental visits are important to maintain the health and durability of your crown – as well as that of all of your teeth and gums.