What is a crown?
A crown, often called a cap, is a thimble shaped piece of porcelain or metal that can be placed on a front or back tooth.
Why might I need a crown?
The commonest reasons are to improve the appearance, to strengthen a weak or fractured tooth or to improve the general eveness bite in certain circumstances. They are also sometimes used to increase the stability or tightness of removable partial dentures. The clinical problems that crowns may help you with include:
- Worn teeth
- Fractured teeth
- Badly broken down teeth
- Weak teeth with large fillings
- Gaps between teeth
- Very uneven bites
- Supporting partial dentures
How long do they last?
The average is 10-15 years. Depending on the condition or strength of the tooth that needs the crown, it can be longer or shorter. We will always tell you when we feel the prognosis is poor and advise you of options that offer the best long term value for money.
What’s involved in having a crown?
First of all we make sure the tooth having a crown is healthy and structurally sound. This occasionally requires the replacement of an old filling in the tooth. Next the tooth is paired down be a small amount all around the outside and on the top. An impression or mould is made of the paired down tooth and this is sent away to a dental laboratory, where the crown is made on a stone model of your tooth. In the mean time, while the final crown is being fabricated you have a temporary crown to preserve the appearance and function of the tooth. When the final crown comes back from the dental lab it is cemented in place. All of these procedures are done under local anaesthetic and are not painful. You can have sedation to help you relax during the treatment if you would prefer.
How long does it take to get a crown made?
For simple crowns it normally takes just a few weeks. In more complex cases, there are sometimes reasons to take longer but these will always be highlighted in advance where required.
What are crowns made of?
Crowns are made of a variety of metals and porcelain materials, all of which have passed rigourous safety standards. The choice of material is normally based on the one that offers the best appearance and long-term function. This may be differ between patients depending on specific clinical needs and circumstances but we will always discuss this with you in advance so you are happy with what we suggest using.
Do I have to have a root canal to have a crown?
Not usually. If we are concerned that the nerve of the tooth might die fairly soon after getting your crown, we may suggest having a root canal treatment beforehand, to avoid damaging the crown during the root canal procedure. Sometimes, in restoring very badly broken down tooth a root canal is part of the foundation work for the crown.
If I have a root canal treatment, do I need a crown?
Not always. On front teeth it can often be avoided but on most root canal treated back teeth it is better to have a crown after the root canal treatment is complete. In this latter case, the crown has been clearly shown to increase the lifespan of the tooth.