The dental crown also referred to as a dental cap, is a form of dental restoration that totally encloses or caps a tooth or any other dental implant. Actually, a dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap fitted over a tooth in order to cover it. This is done to improve the appearance of the tooth, restore it to its original size and shape, to give it strength. Once the dental crown is cemented in place, it completely encases the entire portion of a tooth visible above the gum line.
Why Is a Dental Crown Needed?
The dental crown is needed when there is a large cavity present in a tooth, which can threaten the health of the tooth. The dental crown is normally affixed to a tooth using a dental cement. Also, the dental crown may be needed in any of the following cases:
- For making a cosmetic modification
- For covering any dental implant
- For covering severely discolored or misshapen teeth
- For holding a dental bridge in place
- For covering and supporting any tooth with a large filling, especially when there are only a few teeth left.
- For restoring a worn down/out or broken tooth.
- For holding together parts of a cracked tooth or for protecting a weak tooth from breaking
For little children, a dental crown may be needed to:
- Reduce the number of general anesthesia that children who are unable to withstand the requirements of proper dental care due to age, behavior, or medical history.
- Save the child with a high risk of tooth decay, especially children that cannot keep up with daily oral hygiene.
- Save a severely damaged tooth that can’t support a large filling.
In any of the cases above, the pediatric dentist would likely recommend stainless steel dental crowns.
What Types of Crowns Are Available?
There are different types of dental crowns – stainless steel, metal, all-ceramic, porcelain-fused-to-metal, all-resin, etc. which can be divided into either the permanent crowns or the temporary crowns depending on what each is made from.
- The stainless steel crown: this is a prefabricated temporary crown that is attached as a temporary measure on a permanent tooth. The stainless steel crown then protects the tooth or dental filling. The stainless steel crown is normally used in little children to cover a primary tooth and protect it against further decay. Generally, the stainless steel crown is used for children to prevent them from having multiple visits to the dental office. Fixing the stainless steel crown is less expensive than fixing the custom-made crown or adopting the prophylactic dental care to protect a crownless tooth
- Metal crown: metals used in making metal crowns include metal alloys, which contain high platinum or gold content, or base-metal alloys such as nickel-chromium alloys and cobalt- chromium. Metal crowns are strong enough to withstand chewing and biting. More so, metal crowns are long lasting as they do not easily wear off. They rarely break or chip off and presents one of the best forms look of permanent crowns. The only shortcoming of this type of crown is the metallic color it bears. Nevertheless, they are a very good option for out-of-sight molars.
- Porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crown: unlike the metal crowns, this type of crown can be designed to match the color of your adjacent teeth. However, the Porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crown wears faster compared with resin or metallic crowns. The porcelain part of the crown can also easily break off or chip. Aside from the all-ceramic crowns, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are the next that looks very similar to the natural teeth. However, the metal beneath the porcelain crown can sometimes show through and be seen as a dark line at the gum line, especially if the patient’s gums recede. The porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crown is a very good option for either the front, long bridges, or back teeth where the strength of a metal is needed.
- The all-resin crown is not as expensive as the other types of the crown. More so, it wears off faster over time compared to other crown types. The all-resin crown is very susceptible to crack than the porcelain-fused-to-metal crown.
- All-ceramic crown, also known as the all-porcelain dental crown, provides a better natural color that matches the natural tooth than any other type of crown. The all-ceramic crown is suitable for patients who are allergic to metals. The ceramic crown is best used for front and back teeth.
Temporary Versus Permanent Crowns
Temporary crowns can easily be fabricated in the office of the dentist, while the permanent crowns are fabricated in a dental lab. Normally, temporary crowns are made of either stainless steel or acrylic-based materials that can be used for a period as a temporary restoration before the construction of the permanent crowns is completed in the dental lab.
How to Care for The Temporary Dental Crown?
Temporary crowns are not as strong and durable as the permanent crowns, they are just a temporary restoration before the permanent crown are made. Hence, there are some care and precautions that must be given to the temporary crowns. Here are some precautions given by the dentists:
- When brushing or cleaning your teeth, it is advisable to slide across instead of lifting out dental floss. This prevents pulling off the temporary crown.
- Do not chew on hard foods, this can either break or dislodge the crown.
- Do not always amount pressure on the side of the mouth with temporary crown i.e. do not always use that side with temporary crowns, instead always use the other part of the mouth for bulk chewing.
- Avoid both chewy and sticky foods, such as caramel, chewing gum, etc. they have the potential of sticking to and pulling off the temporary crown.
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Does The Dental Crown Totally Protects the Teeth and Does Not Require Special Dental Care?
Though the tooth with dental crown does not require much dental care, it should be noted that the dental crown is not a sure protection for the tooth against decay or gum disease. Hence, a patient must always follow good dental hygiene practices, which include brushing the teeth at least twice daily, flossing daily, and rinsing the mouth with any good anti-bacterial mouthwash at least once daily.