Dental Crowns

A crown is a dental restoration that is fitted over the remaining part of a prepared tooth and will completely cap it, making it strong and giving it the shape of a natural tooth. A crown is more commonly known as a ‘cap’.

Crowns are normally fitted in the following situations:

  • To cover a week, worn down or already broken tooth (to hold together a cracked tooth)
  • To protect a tooth after a root canal has been performed on it
  • To cover a tooth which has an extended filling
  • To cover misshapen or discoloured teeth in order to improve aesthetics
  • To cover a dental implant

The crown will be made to match the shape, shade and appearance of the other teeth as closely as possible. The color of the adjoining teeth will be recorded, to make sure that the crown looks natural and matches the surrounding teeth.

The most common method of crowning a tooth involves using a dental impression of a prepared tooth by a dentist which is then sent to a laboratory. The dental technicians will then fabricate the crown outside of the mouth on cast models. The crown will then be inserted and fitted in the patient’s mouth at a subsequent dental appointment, normally two weeks later.

The benefits of a crown include long-term durability (on average up to 10-15 years provided good oral hygiene standards are maintained) and evidence-based success as compared to other restorations or no treatment. The main disadvantages of restoration with a crown are extensive irreversible tooth preparation and higher costs than for restoration with a filling.

There are various types of crowns available currently in dentistry and they are used for different instances:

  • Porcelain Bonded Crowns are mostly used in dentistry as they are tooth coloured but also provide a good durability. They are made of a metal shell on top of which a cap of porcelain is fused in a high heat oven.
  • Metal crowns (normally gold alloy) are used for their extended durability and are a good choice for back molars.
  • Zirconium Crowns are made of porcelain only materials and provide the best natural colour and transparency to match the adjacent teeth. They are mostly used to restore front teeth

Frequently Asked Questions

A crown is mainly known as a dental cap. It’s a type of dental restoration that completely caps a tooth or dental implant. Having a crown is a permanent solution and once it’s in place, it should feel and function like a regular tooth.
You may need a dental crown for a couple of reasons. You may need a weak tooth protected or to restore a severely worn down or broken tooth. You may need one for holding a dental bridge in place. They can be used to cover a severely discoloured or misshapen tooth. You can also have a crown to cover previous dental work, such as a dental implant or a tooth that’s been treated with a root canal.
The most common materials for crowns are dental ceramics such as porcelain or zirconia, which are coloured to match the surrounding teeth. You can get gold alloy crowns which are sometimes chosen for their distinctive look.
Your dentist will apply a layer of cement to the inside of the crown. The crown will then be carefully fitted onto your tooth. After it’s been fitted correctly, any excess cement will be carefully scraped away or removed.
At your first visit, the dentist will numb your mouth with an anaesthetic to prepare the tooth for the crown. They will then clear away any decay and shave down the tooth so the crown will fit. Then using a mould or digital scan, your dentist will make an impression of your tooth. You’ll get given a temporary crown whilst your permanent one is being made. On your second visit your dentist will check the crown for proper fit, colour, and comfort – and if everything looks good, the crown will get attached to your tooth.
On your first appointment your dentist will prepare your tooth. This step takes 50 to 90 minutes to complete. Your dentist will then give you a temporary crown to protect the prepared tooth while your permanent dental crown is being made, which takes less than two weeks. Your temporary crown will be replaced with a permanent one which is usually completed in about 20 to 30 minutes.