Dental Crowns

When a tooth is cracked or damaged in some way, a dental crown is often needed. Placing a crown is a fairly simple procedure which allows the final, desired result to be achieved in a short period of time. Crowns can be placed for either functional or aesthetic reasons.

Why get a crown? Some of the many reasons include:

  • When a tooth has been weakened by a large cavity, placing a crown over the tooth strengthens it and prevents it from cracking or fracturing
  • A tooth that has already experienced a fracture can often be saved with a crown
  • When wear has severely eroded some teeth, they can be restored with crowns after the cause of the wear has been addressed
  • Crowns anchor and support a bridge used to replace a missing tooth, and cover the teeth to either side of the space left by the missing tooth
  • Severely misshaped or discolored teeth can be made more attractive with the simple addition of a crown
  • Crowns can be used to eliminate unattractive spaces between the teeth
  • Crowns can easily and quickly correct the misalignment of a limited number of teeth, such as those in the front.

There is often more than one way to correct some of the problems listed above. The choice of which solution to use is based on a conversation between Dr. Murphy and the patient, with Dr. Murphy’s advice being guided by the needs and wants of the patient, integrating that with the best choice for the patient’s health.


The Procedure for Placing Crowns

The first step is ensuring that the tooth to be treated and adjacent teeth and gums are healthy. This is always a smart first step for any cosmetic or restorative treatments. If fillings are needed or there is any sign of gum disease, these situations should be addressed before the crown is manufactured and placed.


Your crown placement begins with trimming the tooth to be crowned. This process is needed to reduce the size of that tooth slightly so the additional bulk of the crown will fit between adjacent teeth and allow your upper and lower teeth to fit together the right way. Your tooth and gums will be numbed before this shaping starts.

If there is any decay in this tooth, that must be corrected as part of this step. If this correction results in a tooth not being large enough for a crown to be cemented to it, Dr. Murphy will need to build up the size of the tooth before any additional work is done. He will use the same composite resin that is used for tooth-colored fillings to increase the size of the tooth to the dimensions that will secure the crown.

When the natural tooth is the right size and shape, its exact dimensions will be recorded. This recording could be done with impression molds of soft plastic or with a digital process. This impression of the prepared tooth and other teeth around it will guide the manufacture of the ceramic or porcelain crown.

If there is a delay while the final crown is manufactured, Dr. Murphy will give you a temporary crown for your comfort until the final one is ready. You will be scheduled for placement of the permanent crown a week to two weeks later.

When you return, Dr. Murphy will first verify that the new, permanent crown was properly manufactured and make any adjustments needed. When he is satisfied that the crown is exactly right, the temporary crown, which was secured using a removable cement, will be taken off. During this process to remove the old crown and cement on the new one, you normally do not need further numbing.   

Dr. Murphy will try the new crown on your tooth, ensuring that the fit over the prepared tooth and with the adjacent teeth is correct. The crown must also meet your opposite teeth in just the right way. If any adjustments need to be made, they will be made at this point, before it is cemented on. The appearance of the tooth should also be just right.

Dr. Murphy may try on and remove the crown several times as he corrects the fit. Finally, when you are both happy with the fit and appearance, he will place the permanent cement inside the crown and fit it firmly over your tooth. A few minutes later, when the cement has begun to set, any excess cement will be trimmed away.


Care for Your Crowns

It’s a good idea to avoid eating any sticky foods for at least the first day so the cement has a chance to bond fully. Your tooth could be sensitive for a while, so try to be patient, but please do communicate with our office if you have any concerns.

After your crown is placed, you will need to take good care of all your teeth to make sure that your teeth, gums and supporting bone stay in good condition. The crown will protect the tooth beneath it, but supporting structures, like bone and gum, also need to stay healthy. Start with a good at-home regimen of twice-daily brushing and flossing once a day. Then be sure to schedule your visits to our office on your recommended schedule. For most people, this is twice each year, but some people with certain health conditions should come more often. We will let you know your optimum schedule.


The Aesthetics of Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are most often chosen to repair or protect damaged teeth, but providing the best crowns involves artfully designing the shape and choosing the right materials for the best aesthetic effect when they are in the patient’s mouth. Dr. Murphy takes pride in his ability to consider all aspects of treatment with crowns.

Initially, he must decide if a crown is the right type of treatment for your particular problem, decide on the materials to be used, shape the crown to match the other teeth and ensure the fit is perfect. He must also take the longevity of the crown and its appearance into consideration. As always, your goals for your treatment and the result you are seeking will guide the treatment plan we present you with.

In the past, many crowns were made of gold or silver metal. They might also have been created out of porcelain layered over a metal base. These techniques are far less popular than they used to be. Most people don’t want to show metal in their smiles, and the porcelain and metal crowns sometimes show dark edges as they age.

More people can now benefit from all-porcelain or all-ceramic crowns. The porcelain or ceramic materials used have gotten so much stronger in the last several years that this material can be used even for teeth that receive intense pressure while chewing, such as the molars. Newer materials also offer a better match for the appearance of natural teeth. And, of course, the color of natural teeth can be closely matched when using these materials.

We want to provide you with the final result that pleases you as well as protects your long-term health. If you have any concerns or needs related to dental crowns you have already received or ones that you think may be needed in the future, please let us know.

And now that you know more about dental crowns, if you think one or more crowns offers a cosmetic improvement to your current smile, please consult with us on how we can help you make that improvement.

If you are living in Batavia, Geneva or anywhere in the Tri-Cities, please contact us to learn how crowns can resolve functional problems or give you the appearance you desire. Call us at 630-984-5605 today. We would love the opportunity to help you achieve your goals.