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What Is a Dental Crown & Why You Might Need One

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3D model of dental crown with crown being placed on top of teeth

Our teeth can deteriorate and become damaged due to many different circumstances: Tooth decay, internal injuries to your mouth, and the general use of your teeth can all lead to the eventual deterioration of our teeth. Dental crowns are an effective solution to these problems and can help you restore the full functionality and appearance of your damaged teeth.

It is important to take the time to consult with your dentist to discern if you need a dental crown  — if you have any questions or concerns about dental crowns, please do not hesitate to contact Maplebrook Dental to book an appointment.

What is a Dental Crown?

Dental crowns are small caps that get fixed over the top of a damaged tooth to restore its integrity, function, appearance, and strength. The caps are designed to replicate the function of your natural teeth and look the same as a natural tooth once they are fixed into place. Typically, dental crowns become necessary when your teeth become damaged from external impacts, tooth decay, and general everyday use.

The Dental Crown Procedure

Receiving dental crowns starts with your dentist giving you a local anesthetic. Next, they will reshape and shave your current damaged tooth so that the crown can fit on it properly. Once the damaged tooth has been reshaped, an impression of the tooth and nearby teeth will be taken and used to make your custom dental crown.

While you are waiting for your finalized crown to be made, your dentist will give you a temporary crown to wear. When your final crown is ready, you will need to visit your dentist’s office so they can fix it into place and determine if it is the right fit for your mouth.

In some cases, the tooth you are receiving a crown for may need special care. You may potentially need to receive orthodontic treatment, gum treatment, or root canal treatment alongside getting a dental crown if the situation calls for it.

Who Performs This Procedure?

Dental crowns are typically fitted and applied by a dentist, but sometimes a prosthodontist will be required to apply a crown. A prosthodontist is a specialty dentist that restores and replaces natural teeth and tissues with artificial substitutes.

3D model of different dental crowns available

What Are the Different Kinds of Dental Crowns?

Metal Crowns 

Metal crowns are typically made from materials like gold, nickel, and chromium. These crowns will last a long time and are not prone to chipping or breaking. But while they are strong and durable, they will not match the colour of your natural teeth.

Porcelain & Ceramic Crowns 

These crowns are the closest to looking like natural teeth, but are usually more brittle and less durable than other crowns made from stronger materials. 

With recent developments in material science though, a lot of porcelain crowns can now be made to be very durable and chip resistant.

Composite Crowns 

Composite crowns will match the natural look of your teeth, and are more durable than other dental crown materials like porcelain and ceramic. Regular dental hygiene (brushing and flossing especially) may cause the polished surface of these crowns to deteriorate, leading to more staining.

Temporary Crowns

These are crowns that will be placed onto your damaged tooth while your permanent custom crown is being made. They are made to be easily removable so that your dentist can access your damaged tooth when your permanent crown is ready to be applied.

Onlays & 3/4 Crowns

Onlays and 3/4 crowns only cover a certain portion of your damaged tooth and do not fit over the entire thing. These crowns are used when reshaping and shaving a tooth is not necessary and a crown can be applied with a smaller amount of maintenance.

Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Crowns

This type of dental crown is a combination of porcelain and metal. Sometimes, depending on the design of the crown, metal may show through at the gum-line if your gums are thin or shrink.

All-Resin Crowns

Resin crowns are usually fragile and can be prone to chipping, but they are generally one of the least expensive options for dental crown materials.

Written by Fotini Molnar

Dr. Fotini Molnar started her dental experience working as a dental assistant in a co-op program during high school. She went on to complete her Bachelor of Science, majoring in biotechnology at York University and then obtained her Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the University of Toronto. Prior to her career in dentistry, Dr. Molnar researched neuroblastoma at Sick Kids Hospital.
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