A crown (also called a “cap) is cemented onto a tooth to mimic the natural shape of the tooth. Crowns are used to restore teeth that are so broken, worn, or decayed that they can no longer hold a filling. They are also used to help and support removable partial dentures and restore implants.
A crown is designed to function like a natural tooth. The tooth being crowned must be shaped to give adequate room for the crown to be strong and attractive without being bulky. If your tooth needs a crown, Dr. McChristian will drill the tooth into the desired shape, take an impression or mold of the tooth and surrounding teeth, and then send it to a dental laboratory to have the crown fabricated. It typically takes the dental laboratory two to three weeks to make a crown.
During this time, the tooth is covered and protected by a temporary crown made by Dr. McChristian or his dental assistant. Once the custom designed crown is delivered by the lab, it is cemented into place.
Note: Some dental offices have a machine that can mill the crown out of a solid block of porcelain in about an hour. While this procedure has the advantage of being convenient, Dr. McChristian feels the end result is inferior to the lab fabricated crowns and does not recommend this procedure.
Connected crowns are used to replace missing teeth; this is called a fixed bridge, as the string of crowns “bridges” the gap of the missing tooth (or teeth). Sometimes crowns are used to improve a smile by covering up discolored, overlapped or overfilled teeth with the end result being a more esthetic, natural appearance.
There are many types of crowns and all have their own advantages and limitations. Crowns can be made from a variety of materials- all gold alloy, all porcelain, porcelain on the outside with a metal alloy infrastructure, or all plastic. Dr.McChristian will discuss with you the type of crown that is appropriate for you and your tooth.