• Dr. Sameer Bhandari

Why a crown is placed on a tooth?

Updated: Sep 5


Crown restorations are one of the most common dental procedures dentists perform. Every day, thousands of people have crowns placed to fix all kinds of tooth and mouth problems. Despite how common the procedure is, however, dental crowns are sometimes not very well understood. In fact, some people are intimidated or frightened by the prospect of having a crown restoration.

Dental crowns are nothing to be intimidated by. Not only are they vitally important, they’re also not scary at all. The dental crown procedure is logical and straight-forward. More importantly, dental crowns themselves perform very important functions for tooth and mouth health. Here’s everything you should know about crowns, and why you shouldn’t be afraid if you need to have one.

WHAT ARE DENTAL CROWNS?

Dental crowns are fixed prosthetic restorations made to restore a damaged tooth to its original shape and size. They’re permanently cemented on teeth that have cracked, extensively decayed, or otherwise been damaged. Although they sometimes extend down onto the root surface, crowns essentially replace the outer aspect of the “crown” part of a natural tooth, so it makes sense that the restorations are called “crowns.”

When affixed, the crown fully encases the portion of the damaged tooth that sits above the gum line. Crowns are custom made to fit over each tooth. They can be made of a variety of different materials, including ceramics, porcelain-and-metal, gold, or resin.

WHEN ARE DENTAL CROWNS USED?

Dentists install crowns to perform several important functions. They protect weak teeth, restore broken teeth, prevent cracked teeth from breaking further, and support teeth that have large fillings. Variants of crowns are also used to hold dental bridges in place. In each case, the crown supports or replaces a structure that no longer works on its own.

Whenever teeth are badly damaged, cracked, broken, or misshapen, crowns are the most effective solution. Crowns restore the appearance, shape, and alignment of a damaged tooth. After a crown is cemented in place, it’s usually the only visible part of the tooth. Crowns are made to look like natural teeth, so they don’ t stand out or look odd inside the mouth.

HOW DO DENTAL CROWNS WORK?

Crowns fit on teeth much the same way sewing thimbles fit on fingertips – they fit over the top of a tooth and protect what’s underneath it. They’re cemented in place and, once affixed, act as a new top for the tooth while holding it together and keeping it from breaking apart.

Crowns are constructed of very resilient and durable materials. They’re designed to endure the traumas of chewing just as effectively as the rest of your teeth. Think of a crown as a cover for the top (visible) portion of your tooth. After the dentist cements the crown to your damaged tooth, it essentially becomes a part of that tooth.

HOW ARE DENTAL CROWNS INSTALLED?

First, your dentist will apply anesthetic to numb the tooth getting the crown and the surrounding gum tissue. Then, they’ll use a dental drill and an abrasive bur to remove the outer surface of the tooth on the top and all sides, creating enough room for the crown to be placed. If there’s not enough of the tooth left to support the crown, they may first add a crown buildup to create a sound foundation on which the crown would sit. The dentist will then make an impression of the tooth using dental impression paste, putty, or a digital scanner. They send this impression to a dental laboratory to actually make the crown.

It usually takes about two to three weeks to get the crown back from the dental laboratory after the dentist sends them the impression. It’s not good for the tooth to leave it uncovered over that time, so your dentist will install a temporary crown during your initial visit. When the permanent crown arrives back at clinic, you’ll have a second appointment with the dentist to install it. The temporary crown will be removed and the new crown will be adjusted to properly fit your tooth and bite. Dentists then use a special cement to affix the crown to the tooth. When the cement cures, the crown is firmly attached to the tooth.

WHY DO DENTAL CROWNS HELP?

Crowns restore the shape, strength, functionality, and appearance of a damaged tooth. After you have one placed, you’ll be able to use your tooth to chew again without risking damage to what’s underneath it. Crowns protect the vulnerable part of the tooth by physically holding it together and shielding it from damage.

Crowns are also important to restoring and maintaining the structural integrity of your mouth and bite. When a tooth decays or breaks, it leaves a gap. That gap can create further problems when it interferes with your bite or when other teeth migrate into it. By filling that gap, crowns restore your mouth’s proper structure. Last but not least, crowns also restore the appearance of your mouth, as they are mostly indistinguishable from natural teeth.

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