As you age, your teeth age too. Decay, fillings, trauma, or even just normal chewing habits can make your teeth break down over time. A dental crown, or a cap, is a cover that is placed over a tooth to protect a weakened tooth from further fracturing or deteriorating. A crown can also be used to replace a discolored or badly shaped tooth or protect a tooth that has had a root canal. Lastly, a new crown is necessary to simply replace an old, worn down, or defective crown.

It normally takes two visits for your dentist to complete your crown. On your first visit a local anesthetic is administered to make the procedure more comfortable. During this visit, your dentist will use a dental hand piece to shape and prepare the tooth so the crown can properly fit over it. In some instances, the tooth may need an additional procedure to replace areas of decay or old fillings to better support the crown.

Next, an impression of the tooth is taken and a temporary crown is inserted to protect the prepared tooth. This impression is then sent to a dental laboratory where a custom fit permanent crown is made.

In some cases, on your second visit the permanent crown is placed and if necessary, adjusted to create a proper fit. If the fit, shape, and color of the crown are satisfactory your dentist will proceed with permanently cementing it into place. Keep in mind that in some instances the crown received back from the laboratory may not fit as expected. In these cases, your dentist may need to take a second impression or readjust the tooth in order to fabricate a crown that fits just right.

After the successful completion of the crown it is not uncommon to feel some discomfort, mild pain when you chew or sensitivity to temperature changes for a few days. As advised by your dentist, you can take over the counter pain medicine to alleviate the discomfort. If these symptoms persist more than a few days, visit your dentist.

Finally, if your newly cemented crown feels to tall or your bite doesn’t feel right you should contact your dentist for further adjustment of the crown.

You may ask yourself, can’t I just get a filling instead?

The answer is usually no. When a tooth requires a crown it has already been weakened to the point that it may not be strong enough to support a filling. Using an unsupported filling instead of a crown often causes the tooth to fracture beyond the point of repair.

Please keep in mind that the longevity of your crown depends in large part on the materials in the crown as well as your oral hygiene, diet, and the health of the supporting tooth and gums. It is important to maintain all of your teeth with proper brushing and flossing.

If you have any additional questions, please consult your dentist.