What Is a Dental Crown?

an example of a dental crown on a finger to show scaleA dental crown is a restoration that fits over your natural tooth, completely covering the visible portion. The dental crown should descend below the visible gum line to give your tooth a new surface. This helps your tooth look and function better while remaining protected. Because the dental crown fits over your tooth like a cap, some people call them dental caps or just caps. 

We also use the term dental crown to describe the replacement that attaches to the top of a dental implant, even though it has a different shape and function.

How Dental Crowns Can Help Your Teeth

Dental crowns are used in many situations, including when your tooth is damaged and needs significant support and/or protection. 

Some of the common situations that call for dental crowns include:

  • Tooth decay
  • Tooth cracking
  • Tooth wear
  • Small teeth
  • Dental bridge placement
  • Dental implant placement

A dental crown isn’t always the right choice in these situations. Your dentist will evaluate your tooth or teeth to determine when it’s right to use a dental crown and when a different form of restoration treatment would serve you better. 

Decayed Tooth Repair

The most common treatment for tooth decay–commonly called a dental cavity–is a filling. In some situations, however, a dental crown is the right choice for tooth decay. A dental crown is best when tooth decay has significantly weakened a tooth. This is often the result of secondary decay around an old dental filling, especially a large metal amalgam filling. 

A dental crown is frequently used to repair a tooth after root canal therapy. Root canal therapy is necessary when the internal, living part of the tooth is exposed to oral bacteria that can infect or has already infected it.

Cracked Tooth Repair

A minor chipped tooth is a cosmetic problem and can benefit from cosmetic solutions like a porcelain veneer or dental bonding. A cracked tooth, on the other hand, has structural damage and needs support to prevent the crack from worsening. A dental crown provides just that support. In some cases, a crack might compromise the living part of the tooth. If that is the case, your dentist will recommend root canal therapy before placing the dental crown. 

Building Up Worn or Small Teeth

If your teeth have worn down, you may want to build them back up to restore the appearance and function of your smile. This is common in full mouth reconstruction. Sometimes, porcelain veneers are ideal when the tooth doesn’t experience strong bite forces or in cases where your concern is not to build up your teeth. However, a dental crown is a better choice if a tooth needs to be built up significantly or is under intense stress. 

The same is true for building up small teeth like retained baby teeth. 

Dental Bridge Placement

A dental crown can help replace a missing tooth as part of a dental bridge. Your natural teeth support traditional dental bridges and typically include two dental crowns on either side of a replacement tooth known as a pontic. The pontic itself has no root, replacing only the tooth’s visible part. The dental crowns fit over your natural teeth, supporting the pontic and allowing you to bite and chew normally. 

Dental Implant Placement

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root. To fully replace your tooth, it needs a part that will serve as the visible tooth you use for smiling and chewing. For a single dental implant, that part is a dental crown.

The Dental Crown Process

The dental crown process starts with a consultation or examination. If you’re a regular patient at StarImage Dental Boutique & Oral Surgery, this might occur during your six-month cleaning and checkup

Once it has been determined that you would benefit from a dental crown, we’ll schedule an appointment to prepare your tooth. This means removing all weakened and/or infected tooth material, which might require root canal therapy. Preparing the tooth will also include effectively shaping it to support the dental crown. 

We’ll take impressions of your prepared tooth and send these to a dental laboratory where professionals will craft your dental crown using the finest materials and techniques. 

After taking the impressions, we’ll prepare a temporary crown you can wear while the lab makes your permanent crown. This crown looks attractive but isn’t as durable as a permanent crown and is only made to last until a little after your new crown is ready.

We’ll contact you for an appointment when your dental crown is ready. We’ll check the fit and function of your crown, and if you’re happy with it, we will cement it in place.

How to Care for Dental Crowns

Modern dental crowns are so durable that you can treat them like natural teeth. You don’t have to give up any foods, but, as with natural teeth, you shouldn’t chew on non-foods. Brush twice a day and floss every day. It’s important to floss carefully around your crown–food can accumulate at the base of the crown and cause decay there. 

Depending on the type of dental crown, we might recommend avoiding highly abrasive toothpaste. Scratching your crown is one of the few things that can lead to early discoloration and staining. 

Proper care and treatment of your dental crown will likely last at least ten years and may last 15 years or more.

Restore Your Smile with Dental Crowns

Do you have a badly damaged tooth that needs the support of a dental crown? At StarImage Dental Boutique & Oral Surgery, our dentists have extensive experience using dental crowns to provide beautiful, durable results. 

To learn whether your smile will benefit from a dental crown, please call (817) 587-4566 or use our online form today to request an appointment in Southlake, TX today.