What is a dental crown?
A dental crown is a custom-made, permanent restoration. Basically, it is an artificial tooth.
A dental crown looks like a hollow, tooth-shaped ‘cap’ which is cemented onto an existing natural tooth (or onto a dental implant).
Dental crowns are made out of ceramic (porcelain) which is a highly aesthetic material. They are seamlessly matched to the shape and colour of your existing teeth. Dental crowns will look, function and feel just like a natural tooth.
When cemented into place, crowns completely cover the entire visible portion of the tooth that lies at and above the gum line.
What is the purpose of a dental crown?
A dental crown has two main purposes:
- To restore strength and functionality to a tooth that has been severely weakened or damaged and is no longer structurally sound. This allows the natural tooth be retained, where it may otherwise need to be extracted.
- To improve or restore the aesthetic appearance of a natural tooth such as colour, shape, length or alignment. This can include covering broken, chipped, stained, discoloured or misshapen teeth.
A dental crown will also protect the tooth from further wear and breakdown.
Some of the aesthetic results crowns can achieve include:
- Reshaping or rotating teeth
- Closing spaces between teeth
- Restoring length on worn teeth
Crowns are also used in dental implant cases to replace missing teeth that have been lost due to disease, decay or an accident. A dental implant is an artificial root that is inserted into the jawbone to support and hold the crown in place, where there is no natural tooth or root structure to do so.
Why might a dental crown be needed?
Reasons a crown might be needed include:
- To protect a tooth that has become weakened (for example by decay) or cracked, by holding it together and preventing it from breaking.
- To replace an old, broken or failing tooth filling.
- To restore a tooth that has already broken.
- To restore length on worn down teeth (for example from grinding).
- To cover and support a tooth that has a large filling if there isn’t much natural tooth structure left.
- To make a cosmetic modification such as closing spaces between teeth, reshaping or rotating teeth, or covering a discoloured tooth.
- To restore strength to a tooth that has undergone root canal therapy.
Other uses for dental crowns:
- Crowns are used to hold dental bridges in place.
- A crown is used to cover a dental implant.
How is a dental crown made?
At VC Dental, crowns can either be made in a dental laboratory, or on-site during one appointment using our CEREC machine. There are positives for each method which your dentist will explain to you during your appointment, as well as suggesting the right option for you. No matter which you choose, both options result in a custom-made crown that will seamlessly match your existing teeth.
Laboratory-made crowns are meticulously handcrafted by a qualified dental ceramist, often using multiple layers of material in varying colour shades for a seamless, translucent and natural result.
CEREC crowns are milled to your exact impression in our surgery from a single block of ceramic (porcelain) material, which is matched to your natural tooth colour shade.
Dental crown procedure
Firstly your natural tooth will be prepared. This involves reducing the top of the tooth in size and reshaping it, to allow adequate spacing for the dental crown.
If any decay is present it will be removed. If the tooth structure has been damaged it may also need to be restored by using a core, or a post-and-core, to ensure it can support the crown.
The next steps depend on which type of crown you are having made (whether it is a laboratory-made dental crown, or a CEREC-made dental crown). You will find more information below.
Laboratory-made dental crowns
Laboratory-made crowns are generally completed over two appointments:
Once the natural tooth has been prepared, an impression will be taken of the tooth and the teeth surrounding it. This provides an exact mould for your dental crown to be designed from.
Your impression will be sent to the dental laboratory for the ceramist to manufacture your crown.
A temporary crown will then be custom-made out of composite (plastic resin) material, and fitted to cover the prepared natural tooth until your custom crown is finished. The temporary crown will seal and protect the tooth, as well as restoring its aesthetic appearance. It will be matched to your natural tooth shape and colour to blend in with your smile.
Laboratory-made dental crowns generally take one week to be manufactured and returned to our surgery.
On your return appointment, the temporary crown will be removed.
The laboratory-made dental crown will be checked for fit and adjusted if necessary, before being permanently cemented onto your natural tooth.
Laboratory-made crown procedure: lower tooth:
Laboratory-made crown procedure: upper tooth:
CEREC- made dental crowns
The system uses 3D photography as well as CAD/CAM (Computer-Aided Design and Manufacturing) technology.
Firstly a photo is taken of the tooth inside your mouth, and then a virtual design model of the crown is created, without needing to take impressions.
The data for the model is then electronically sent to our on-site milling unit, which uses a precise cutting tool to fabricate the restoration out of a block of porcelain material.
This is all completed in a single appointment, whilst you rest in the dental chair.
Once the crown is manufactured, it will be checked for fit and adjusted if necessary, before being permanently cemented onto your natural tooth.
This system eliminates the need for dental impressions, physical moulds, temporary restorations, and multiple dental visits. The modern technology is precise and accurate, and the restorations produced will match your natural tooth colour and blend in seamlessly.
CEREC crown milling: