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What You Need To Know About Dental Crowns

A crown is a cover or “cap” your dentist can put over a tooth

If your tooth is damaged but not lost, a crown can be used to restore its shape, appearance and function. You may need a crown if you have a root canal, a large filling in a tooth or a broken tooth.

The crown restores the tooth and protects it from further damage. Crowns can also be used to cover a discoloured or misshapen tooth. A tooth that has been fixed with a crown looks and works very much like a natural tooth.

A dental crown may be needed in the following situations:

Reasons you may need a crown:

  • You have a cavity that is too large for a filling
  • You have a tooth that is cracked, worn down, or otherwise weakened
  • You have had root canal treatment — the crown will protect the restored tooth 
  • You want to cover a discoloured or badly shaped tooth and improve your smile

Who does this procedure?

If you need to have a tooth crowned, your dentist may do it, or he or she may refer you to a prosthodontist. Prosthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that deals with restoring and replacing natural teeth and tissues with artificial substitutes.

What Types of Crowns Are Available?

Crowns are made from various types of materials. Depending on which tooth needs a crown, your dentist or prosthodontist will suggest a material, or combination of materials, that is right for you.

Porcelain crowns look the most natural. They are more brittle than metal or composite and may chip more easily. Because of this, they are not usually placed on back teeth.

Composite crowns look natural. They won’t chip as easily as porcelain crowns, but they tend to wear more quickly from chewing. Tooth brushing tends to remove the highly polished surface of composite crowns and this causes them to stain more easily.

Metal crowns are made of gold. They generally last a long time and won’t chip or break. They tend not to wear down your opposing natural teeth. However, the gold colour does not look natural, particularly on front teeth.

Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns look natural and are stronger than porcelain or composite crowns. They won’t chip as easily as porcelain or ceramic crowns. However, depending on their design, the metal may show if your gums are thin or shrink.

How Long Do Dental Crowns Last?

On average, dental crowns last between five and 15 years. The life span of a crown depends on the amount of wear and tear the crown is exposed to, how well you follow good oral hygiene practices, and your personal mouth-related habits you should avoid such habits as:

  • Grinding or clenching your teeth.
  • Chewing on ice.
  • Biting fingernails.
  • Using your teeth to open packaging.

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