Cosmetic dentistry procedures often resemble each other in appearance and functionality. For example, dental crowns, dental veneers, and dental bonding are all cosmetic solutions that fix similar tooth-related problems by covering up and shielding the original tooth. The main difference, though, lies in how effective this treatment solution is.
Of the three cosmetic procedures described above, dental crowns are undoubtedly one of the most relied upon procedures. Dr. Allen Gotora from Stellar Dental in Maryland, for example, prescribes dental crowns specifically for cases in which not only the appearance but also the functionality of the tooth in question is impacted.
What is a dental crown? What is the procedure like?
The main reason why dental crowns are so effective is the shape of the crown. Dental crowns, unlike porcelain veneers or dental bonding, are “caps” that fit over a damaged tooth rather than “sheets” bonded to one side of the tooth. As such, they provide protection for the entire tooth, safely enclosing the tooth in a hard shell.
That hard shell takes up space, though, and that’s why the dental crown procedure isn’t as simple as just fitting the piece over the tooth. First and foremost, the tooth in question has to be carefully prepared for the crown fit over, and that preparation may be more complex than you imagine. Because the dental crown, thin as it may be, takes up space in the mouth, space has to be created in the mouth to make sure the crown sits properly in between and against opposing teeth. This means is that the preparation stage involves the filing down of the damaged tooth to create room for the future crown.
Of course, a local anesthetic will be administered to keep you pain-free and comfortable during the process. There should be no great side effects from this alteration, though.
After making sure the tooth is ready, your dentist will take an impression of the filed-down tooth and begin to craft the actual dental crown. Because everyone’s teeth are slightly different, dental crowns aren’t pre-made, store-bought goods. They have to be customized to fit a patient’s mouth exactly. In fact, some dentists may even outsource a local dental lab to manufacture patient-specific dental crowns for them because that customization is so important. All in all, it shouldn’t take more than two weeks for this step to be completed.
Once your dentist has the crown in hand, he or she will actually proceed to place the crown over the tooth in question. Because you both want the crown to fit over the tooth perfectly, your dentist will spend some time adjusting the positioning of the crown until you are both satisfied with the result. The final product will be carefully cemented in place to make sure the crown won’t be dislodged in the future — and once that’s done, your dental crown will be complete!
What types of problems can dental crowns be used to solve?
That being said, what are the types of situations in which a dentist might prescribe a dental crown? Again, the borders between what a dental crown covers and what a porcelain veneer can be used to fix will likely to be fuzzy at times. You’ll want to ask a dentist like Dr. Gotora for his professional recommendations for your particular case. In general, though, dental crowns are offered to patients who have:
- A broken or worn down tooth: Severely fractured or severely worn down teeth typically require dental crowns to fix because they typically impact the functionality of the teeth in question. For example, if your tooth has cracked in half, you’ll want more than a veneer covering it. You’ll likely need a dental crown to completely secure the damaged tooth.
- A tooth experiencing extreme tooth decay: Most of the time, the worst thing tooth decay could do is create a cavity that a simple filling can fix. However, untreated tooth decay could eventually carve out such a large portion of the tooth that a filling won’t be able to solve the problem. In these cases, a dental crown will be prescribed to fully protect the tooth from every angle.
- Another cosmetic procedure that needs to be anchored down: Dental crowns can also be used in conjunction with other cosmetic procedures. For example, dental bridges are frequently attached via dental crowns fitted over the teeth adjacent to the gap they are designed to fill. Dental crowns are also attached to dental implants as the final stage of implant restoration of missing or extracted teeth.
If you’re experiencing one of these issues, or if you have another dental problem that you think could be fixed with a dental crown, you should contact a Maryland dentist to get professional advice for how to continue!