What is a dental crown?

A crown is a cap placed over a tooth and held in place by dental adhesive or cement.

Crowns are used for several reasons:

  • as a protective cover for heavily decayed teeth or fractured teeth
  • as a permanent restoration for teeth with large fillings
  • to correct minor problems in natural teeth like spacing and irregular shape or severe discolouration.

What are crowns made from?

Crowns can be made from porcelain, ceramic or metal alloys. A combination of metal and ceramic is also used to maximize strength and simulate the appearance of natural teeth.

How are crowns made?

Firstly, the teeth are prepared. This involves reduction of the tooth size under local anaesthesia followed by an impression of the prepared tooth. This trimming of the tooth is required to create space for the crown to be fitted. The impression taken is then sent to a laboratory where a crown will be made. In the meantime, a temporary crown is made and fitted onto the prepared tooth.

At the second appointment, the temporary crown is removed and the tooth surfaces cleaned. The completed crown is tried on the tooth for fit and appearance. Finally, the crown is cemented onto the prepared tooth with a special dental cement.

How long do crowns last and how do I care for them?

The life of a crown will depend on how well it is looked after. The crown itself cannot decay, however, the underlying tooth is still prone to decay and gum disease. It is very important to keep this area as clean as your other teeth. Properly cared for crowns will last for many years.

Ceramic on the surface may chip or fracture. Avoid chewing excessively-hard substances like ice or bones. Daily brushing and flossing are essential for maintaining good oral health as well as keeping the crown trouble-free.

How long does the treatment take?

You will need to have at least two visits: the first for the preparation, impression, shade taking and fitting the temporary crown, and the second to fit the permanent crown.

Does it hurt to have a tooth prepared for a crown?

No. A local anaesthetic is used and the preparation should feel no different from a filling.

How are crowns fixed to teeth?

Once the fit and appearance of the crown has been checked – and approved by you – it will be cemented in place with special dental cement. The cement also forms a seal to help hold it firmly in place.

Will the crown feel different?

Because the shape of the crown will be slightly different from the shape of you tooth before it was crowned, you may be aware of it to begin with. Within a few days it should feel fine, and you will not notice it. The crown may need some adjustment if it feels higher than the surrounding teeth.