When a tooth becomes fractured or broken, a porcelain crown is usually used to help protect and preserve it. Porcelain crowns are also often used to save a tooth that has large cavities or excessive decay. The crown covers the tooth and protects it, holding it together. This allows our dentist to save teeth that would otherwise need to be extracted.
Planning Your Porcelain Crowns
When a tooth can be repaired using a dental veneer or a method such as direct composite bonding, our dentist may prefer to use these options. A porcelain crown does require some of the tooth enamel to be removed to ensure that the crown can fit properly. This is a permanent procedure; the dentist will want to ensure that the method used to repair your tooth leaves as much of the healthy portion of the tooth as possible.
In some cases, a veneer or bonding may not be appropriate. If you have undergone a root canal, or if you have received a dental implant, a dental crown will be used. They are also included as part of a fixed dental bridge in order to hold the permanent prosthesis in place. If it is decided that a dental crown is the best repair for your particular case, our dentist will carefully plan your crown to ensure a comfortable, functional fit.
First, impressions will be taken of the tooth and surrounding teeth. This ensures that the dental crown will be the correct shape and size to blend in and fit comfortably in your mouth. This will also allow you to preview the restoration if it is being included as part of a smile makeover procedure. The tooth will then be prepared for the crown.
The dentist will need to apply a slightly abrasive solution to your tooth and remove a small portion of the tooth enamel. Not only will this ensure that the dental crown will fit comfortably without affecting your bite, the roughened tooth surface will also allow the porcelain crown to be properly bonded to the remaining portion of the tooth. During your consultation, our dentist will discuss your preferred options for local anesthesia that will be used while your tooth is being prepared. If you prefer, you may ask for sedation dentistry at this time, but you will need to schedule a second appointment and ensure that you have someone to drive you home following your procedure.
Placing your Porcelain Crown
As stated above, our dentist will need to properly prepare your tooth before the porcelain crown can be properly bonded to your tooth. The dentist will use the form of anesthesia discussed during your initial consultation to numb the area around the tooth, and then a small portion of the tooth enamel will be removed and the tooth will be roughened slightly. An impression of your tooth and the surrounding teeth will then be taken and sent to a laboratory where your porcelain crown will be created. This takes around six weeks.
While you wait for your dental crown to be created, your tooth will be fitted with a temporary crown. This will protect the tooth from further damage and from infection. Once we receive the permanent crown from the laboratory, you will return to our dentist, and the porcelain crown will be bonded to your tooth using a special bonding cement.
Dental Crowns Recovery and Aftercare
While your temporary crown is in place, you will be advised to use caution when brushing and flossing. Being too vigorous could cause the temporary crown to become dislodged. Immediately following the placement of your porcelain crown, you may also need to follow these same procedures for a day or two.
Dental crowns are durable, but not impervious to damage. You will need to avoid chewing on non-food items such as pen caps or ice, and you may be asked to avoid items such as chewing gum or hard candy as well. Maintaining a regular schedule of brushing twice per day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once per day can help keep your porcelain crown free from staining, tartar, and plaque deposits. If you grind your teeth at night, you will most likely be given a protective mouth guard to wear while you sleep in order to protect your remaining teeth and the restoration from damage.
Types of Porcelain Crowns
There are two main types of porcelain crowns used in dentistry today. The most common choice is an all porcelain crown. This option contains no metal, making it thinner than porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns, and therefore require less of the tooth enamel to be removed. They also appear quite natural, as light passes more easily through this type of crown. Unfortunately, because they are thinner, this type of crown tends to be more prone to damage.
For patients who may need a more durable restoration, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are an excellent option. While more of the tooth enamel needs to be removed in order to comfortably place this thicker dental restoration, this type of crown is less easily damaged. Patients will need to keep in mind, however that as the gums and underlying bone shift over time, a small amount of the metal margin at the gum line may become visible. You may want to consider having a porcelain collar placed around the bottom of the crown to prevent the metal portion from becoming visible.