Crowns protect and keep badly decayed or fractured teeth from breaking down allowing you to retain the tooth.
A crown (often called a cap) covers the tooth and restores it to its original shape and size. Decay or damaged tooth structure is removed and cleaned from the tooth. The dentist takes an impression of the “prepped” area to send to the dental lab that will make the crown. The dentist/assistant then makes a temporary prototype of the crown for the patient to wear for the short time that it takes for the dental lab to make.
Another Alternative For Some Crown Preparations
The dentist removes the decay or damaged tooth (the same as in conventional preparation). The dentist then takes computer generated 3-D photos of the tooth’s prep with the Cerec 3-D Cad-Cam. Those photos are then transmitted to the milling machine where it creates your own personalized custom precision fitting crown. (In some cases the Cerec-in-office system cannot be used and would require the traditional, prep of tooth, impression and lab fabrication)
Crowns are incredibly strong. This protects and strengthens the remaining tooth structure. In the hands of a skilled dentist, a crown will fit perfectly onto the prepared surface of the tooth, reducing the size of the seam between the crown and the tooth. This helps keep decay from eventually occurring under the crown.
Crowns should be placed before the tooth is so broken down that it may fracture. This can often help prevent the expense of root canal therapy in the future. It can also prevent the possibility that a fractured tooth may need to be removed, requiring the expense of a bridge or implant to replace the missing tooth.
Crowns are excellent restorations and have few disadvantages. They are highly durable, but they may eventually need to be re-cemented or replaced due to normal wear. Occasionally, a tooth may still need root canal therapy after being crowned. However, this indicates that the interior of the tooth was already sick (infected) and would have eventually needed root canal therapy anyway.
In the event that a tooth is so decayed or fractured that it needs to be removed, the best alternatives to a crown are implants or fixed bridges that replace the missing tooth.
With old technology, dental crowns always needed to be made with a metal foundation. Today, we can make them out of pure porcelain, ceramic or aesthetic reinforced resins. There are still occasions on the back teeth when the durability of a metal crown makes it the restoration of choice. But for crowns that show, wouldn’t you rather have one that looks as natural as possible