A crown is an artificial restoration that fits over the remaining part of a prepared tooth, making it strong and giving it the shape of a natural tooth. A crown is sometimes known as a ‘cap’
Crowns are an ideal way to restore teeth that have been broken, or have been weakened by decay or a very large filling. A crown could be used for a number of other reasons, for example:
• you may have a discoloured filling and would like to improve the appearance of the tooth.
• you may have had a root filling which may need a crown to protect what is left of the tooth.
• it may help hold a bridge or denture firmly in place.
Crowns can be made of a variety of different materials and new materials are being introduced all the time. Here are some of the most popular options:
Porcelain bonded to precious or non-precious metal: this is what most crowns are made from. A precious or non-precious metal base is made and then porcelain is applied in layers over it.
Porcelain crowns: these crowns are made entirely out of porcelain and are not as strong as bonded crowns, but they can look very natural and are most often used for front teeth.
All-ceramic crowns: this modern material is metal free. It can give the strength of a bonded crown and the appearance of a porcelain crown. This makes it suitable for use in all areas of the mouth.
Gold alloy crowns: gold is one of the oldest filling materials. Today it is used with other metals to increase its strength, which makes it a very hard-wearing restoration. These crowns are silver or gold in colour.
You will need to have at least two visits. The first is to have the tooth prepared, the impressions taken, the shade matched and the temporary crown fitted. The second is to fit the permanent crown. There will usually be about 1 to 2 weeks in between appointments.
How long your crown lasts depends on how well you look after it. The crown itself cannot decay, but decay can start where the edge of the crown joins the tooth. Therefore, to prevent decay affecting the crown, it is important to keep this area just as clean as you would your natural teeth. Brush for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and clean in between your teeth with ‘interdental’ brushes or floss.