A dental crown is a cap that fits over a tooth to increase its size or improve on its shape. Crowns also strengthen a tooth and give it a better overall appearance. They are used when a tooth has weakened, broken or has a large filling, to cover implants and to hold a bridge together.
Crowns can be metal, porcelain fused to metal, all-resin, all-porcelain or all-ceramic. Metal crowns are the most durable without causing problems to opposing teeth. Temporary crowns made of steel or acrylic may be used while the permanent ones are made by the lab.
The procedure for a crown begins with an x-ray to see the condition of the tooth’s root and to assess the bone surrounding it. A root canal may be required if there is a lot of decay. The dentist will numb the area around the tooth and file it down to make room for the new crown. If a lot of the tooth is missing, it may need to be built up a bit before receiving the crown.
The next step is making an impression of the tooth for the crown. Impressions of the opposing tooth are also made to determine a proper fit for the bite. If a porcelain crown is to be used, the dentist will pick a color that matches the other teeth. A temporary crown will be fitted at this time to protect the tooth until the new one is ready.
The following visit entails the fitting and checking the color of the new crown. If everything is as it should be, the dentist will cement it permanently into place.
A dental crown will last anywhere from five to 15 years, with proper oral care and no bad habits such as nail biting, grinding or clenching. Cost can vary, depending on the type of crown used. The average is $500 to $900. The procedure or parts thereof may be covered by insurance and the patient should check with their carrier before proceeding.