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Dental crowns, the patient's guide

author icon By Dr. George Ghidrai

What is a dental crown ?

A dental crown is a prosthetic restoration which completely caps or encircles a tooth or dental implant.

dental crown

Dental crowns are fixed dental restoration. Unlike removable dentures, which can be taken out from the mouth by the patient, crowns are cemented onto existing teeth or implants, and can only be removed by a dentist.

What are the main benefits of dental crowns?

  • The tooth is restored both functionally and aesthetically

    A dental crown can restore the tooth back to its original size, shape, and color. Besides that, a crown surrounds the tooth and makes it strong again, so badly broken or decayed teeth can be strengthened with dental crowns.

    A crown can cover up a stained or unusually shaped tooth or close spaces between teeth and correct minor rotations and positions of the teeth. Dental crowns can improve the general appearance, adding to patients self-confidence and giving a nicer smile.

    dental crowns can improve aesthetics and the general appearance

    dental crowns can improve aesthetics and the general appearance

  • A crown protects the tooth against further decay

    A crown that fits correctly over the tooth can protect the tooth against tooth decay.

  • Few appointments are needed

    Dental crowns require little time to be completed compared to dental bridges, removable dentures or implant-supported prostheses. Depending on the type of crown, the execution may vary between 2 and 4 appointments.

  • Patients get used to dental crowns before long

    Because of their small size, patients get accustomed to dental crowns in a short time. Generally, after a period of 1 to 4 weeks, a dental crown should feel and function like a regular tooth.

What are the main drawbacks?

  • Requires tooth preparation

    If performed on natural teeth, dental crowns require irreversible tooth preparation (grinding or polishing). This operation leads to the loss of large amounts of healthy tooth tissue and sometimes even endodontic procedures that lead to tooth devitalization.

    natural tooth before preparation

    natural tooth before preparation

    the tooth after preparation

    the tooth after preparation

  • Higher cost

    Dental crowns (especially porcelain or zirconia) entail a much higher cost compared to a filing. Nevertheless, a badly broken or decayed tooth needs to be strengthened with a crown because this cannot be done with a filling alone.

When would I need a dental crown?

Crowns can be indicated in many situations. Here are some of the most common indications:

Dental crown contraindications

There are only several situations when a simple dental crown has a clear contraindication.

  • General conditions that make anesthesia or tooth preparation inadvisable

    Some serious conditions may restrain certain dental treatments. These include serious heart diseases, recent strokes, and others. These situations require a medical examination performed by the appropriate specialist.

  • When the tooth can be restored with fillings or other restorations

    When a tooth can be restored with other types of restorations that do not involve such an extensive preparation (such as composite fillings, inlays, onlays or veneers), it is pointless to prepare the tooth (by grinding) and thus destroy a significant amount of dental tissues.

What types of dental crowns are available?

Dental crowns can be made from a variety of dental materials, depending on the clinical situation as well as the budget and preferences of each patient.

Click on the corresponding link for extensive details of each type of crown.

How long do dental crowns and last?

With proper care and maintenance, dental crowns can last up to 15 years (or even more).

The most important step you can take to ensure the longevity of your crown is to practice good oral hygiene. Also see your dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings and report any discomfort you may notice as soon as possible.

Further reading

Last review and update: December 2020

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