A dental crown is used to cover a tooth that is so badly decayed or broken that a conventional filling will not solve the problem. Crowns can be shaped to mimic the appearance of your original tooth and some materials can also be color-matched. In most cases, you will need two crowns -- a temporary crown to wear while the permanent crown is being made, and the permanent crown itself.
A crown replaces the top of the tooth. Crowns are sometimes called caps, as they “cap” the damaged tooth. A crown can strengthen a damaged tooth and improve its appearance, shape, or alignment. Sometimes crowns are attached to a dental implant to replace a missing tooth. If you have a weak or fractured tooth or a large filling that must be replaced, your dentist may recommend a crown. Crowns are also used to cover teeth that are discolored or poorly shaped, or after a root canal treatment.
Crowns are made of a variety of materials, including gold and metal alloys (mixes of metals), acrylic, and ceramic/porcelain. Alloys are often recommended for back teeth because they are stronger than porcelain. A metal shell with porcelain bonded to
the top is another option, as it is both strong and attractive. Porcelain/ceramic crowns can be color-matched to your natural teeth. They cannot be whitened after they are installed, however, so have tooth whitening done before the permanent crown is placed.
Dental crowns need no special care. Floss daily and brush your teeth once a day. See your dentist for regular preventive checkups and cleaning. Crowns can wear and may need to be replaced or strengthened. If you use your teeth as tools (for example, to open packages), chew ice or hard candies, the crown can break. In most respects, however, a crown is just like a regular tooth, and will last a lifetime.
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