A dental crown is basically a cap made according to the shape of the tooth in question, fitted on the tooth. It is a covering of the tooth. When fitted on the tooth, the crown completely covers the tooth, from the gum line to the top of the tooth. The encased tooth is not visible. You can only see the crown. The crown is made in such a way that you would not know the difference between a real tooth and the crown.
The question arises as to why would you want to cap the tooth? The following are the reasons why you need crowns to cap the teeth.
Why are dental crowns required?
Here is a list of reasons for need of a dental crown to cap the teeth.
- To protect the weak tooth
When a tooth has developed infections, the dentist has to work on the tooth te remove the damaged tissues and may have to perform a root canal procedure. When root canal treatment is done on a tooth, the dentist has to drill a hole into the tooth to crate space for his instrument to reach the base of the tooth and clear the infected tissues. After doing so much work on the tooth, the concerned tooth becomes weak and needs protection. When fitted with a crown on top the tooth can regain its strength for some more time and the tooth can do its work as before.
- To hold together a weakened tooth
Sometimes while working on the tooth, the dentist finds that because of the decay and pressure of the work being done on the tooth, the tooth breaks into more than one piece. It is the endeavour of all good dentists to save the original tooth as long as possible. In this case the tooth is not separated from the gum, but is broken from above. This is when the crown is needed to protect and save the tooth.
- Accidental breakage
Sometimes the frontal impact during an accident breaks the upper part of the tooth where the tooth is rooted to the gum but is cracked in the top. A crown on top of this tooth will hide the crack and will help the tooth from getting more damaged.
- When large filling is needed
Sometimes the tooth needs a large filling. When the filling is large, the remaining tooth may not be able to support such a large filling and it has to be capped to hold it in place.
- Correcting damage due to substance abuse
Sometimes due to substance abuse or because of medicinal requirements, the teeth are discoloured and give a bad look to the person. In such cases, crowns will hide the colour of the teeth and give the wearer a better smile.
- For dental implants or bridges
Crowns are needed when dental implants are placed in the mouth. The same is true when dental bridges are used. Crowns are also used with small children when the child is unable to stick to a strict dental regime, and his teeth need protection.
What are the different types of crowns?
There are a number of materials that are used for making crowns according to personal needs and choice of the patient. The common materials used are stainless steel, porcelain, resin, and ceramic.
Stainless steel crowns are used temporarily to protect a tooth while permanent crown is being made. This crown is fitted for the time being as it would not be advisable to keep the filling in the tooth exposed for a long time.
When the permanent ceramic or resin or porcelain crowns are ready, the dentist will remove the stainless steel crown and fit the tooth with the crown that is ordered. For children usually stainless steel crown is fitted on the primary tooth to protect it from dental decay. When the primary tooth gives way to the permanent tooth, the crown comes out with it naturally. For children stainless steel crowns are best because they do not require frequent visits to the dentist for fitting, hence more convenient for children and also less expensive.
There are a variety of metals that can be used in making crowns. Alloys with a high gold and platinum content is frequently used for crowns. Then there are base metal alloys for example, alloys like cobalt-chromium and nickel-chromium. Metal crowns are very durable and endure chewing and biting forces for a long time. The metal crowns are longest lasting because they withstand a lot of wear and tear rarely chip or break. The only drawback of metallic crown is their colour. They are mainly used for molars which are at the back of the mouth not visible as such.
Porcelain and ceramic
Porcelain is a very good choice for frontal and visible teeth because it can be matched with the colour of your original teeth and they look nice. Porcelain is fused to metal to be made into crowns. This type of crowns are attractive, but they cannot be as long lasting as metal crowns. They get worn down when in touch with neighbouring natural teeth, and they are prone to chip or break. Porcelain fused to metal crowns are among the most natural looking crowns, even compared to ceramic crowns, but when the porcelain wears down, the metal frame upon which the porcelain is stuck, is seen through as a darker shadow line, and looks unattractive. These crowns are a better choice for long bridges where metal is needed for support.
Ceramic crowns are good for colour matching to your natural teeth. Some people have metal allergies who cannot tolerate metal in the mouth. These people can benefit from ceramic and all porcelain crowns.
Resin dental crowns are the least expensive compared to all other types of crowns. They are not long lasting and get affected fast with a lot of wear and tear. The break easily and therefore not very popular.
Then there are temporary crown and permanent crowns. Temporary crowns can be made in the dentist’s clinic and usually made from acrylic based materials. Sometimes stainless-steel frames are also used for making temporary crowns. Temporary crowns are made to cap the tooth for protection till the permanent crowns are made in the lab.