What is a Dental Crown?
A dental crown (often called a “cap”) is a protective covering that surrounds your natural teeth. Dental crowns are used on teeth that have been compromised due to decay, cracks, or fractures. They are also used for teeth that are unsightly. In the case of a food trap between teeth, a dental crown can also be used to fill said gap. Therefore, creating a tighter contact.
Do I need a dental crown?
This is a common question we get from our patients, and most people in the course of their lifetime will require at least one crown. So how do you know if you are someone who needs a dental crown? Check out the following list. Have you said any of these things? These are common symptoms that may indicate a need for a dental crown:
Disclaimer: It is impossible to properly diagnose the state of your tooth without an x-ray and examination. Please contact us if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, and we would be happy to schedule an appointment for you.
1. “I have a broken tooth”
-Once a tooth has been compromised by breakage, most of the time that tooth will require a dental crown to be restored. However, it is possible, if the break is not too large, that a filling can be placed instead. This will be determined at the time of your appointment.
2. “My tooth is extra sensitive to cold, and/or sugar”
-Teeth are supposed to feel when something is cold. This sensation means that the tooth is alive and healthy. However, if a single tooth feels the cold in a more intense way than the others it could be a sign that your tooth has a fracture in it. Not every tooth that has a fracture line in it will require a crown, but a fracture will make a tooth more susceptible to breakage. A sudden hyper reaction to sugar is a good indication that the fracture in the tooth has become larger and deeper. At this point, the tooth is in need of a crown.
3. “My tooth hurts when chewing”
-Again, this can indicate that the tooth has a fracture line in it. At times a tooth may be traumatized and it will hurt to eat on, but the tooth may not need a crown. If you find that your tooth always hurts to chew on, don’t ignore it. It is likely that you have cracked or fractured your tooth, and biting down on it causes the tooth to flex. If this is not addressed, the tooth could break beyond repair.
4. “My tooth has a large amount of decay”
-Any time decay in a tooth has not been properly removed and filled, the decay will continue to eat away at the tooth. If allowed to spread, that tooth will require much of its surface to be removed, and depending how much is left, the tooth may need to be crowned. In the event much of the tooth has decayed away, putting in a large filling is greatly discouraged. This is because large fillings are prone to breaking, and in some cases, will even split the tooth down the middle. If a tooth were to split due to a large filling, it is likely that tooth is no longer restorable and will require an extraction.
5. “Food gets stuck in between my teeth”
If you consistently find yourself having to floss or use a toothpick to get food from between your teeth, you may want to consider a crown. The problem with food traps is that even the best brusher and flosser may find that they cannot keep their tooth as clean as it needs to be. This, in turn, could result in tooth decay. On a practical note, a crown can get rid of the annoyance of digging food out between the teeth.
6. “My teeth are crooked/my teeth are stained”
In addition to the medical reasons for needing a crown, they are often utilized for cosmetic purposes; such as crooked, unsightly teeth, or teeth that will not adhere to teeth whitening.
7. “My tooth has had previous root canal treatment”
Once a tooth has had root canal treatment, to fully restore that tooth, it will require a crown. This is because a tooth with previous root canal treatment is no longer a vital tooth (it no longer has blood flowing through it) and is prone to breaking.
What is the process of getting a crown?
Your first appointment:
- As with most of our dental procedures, in order to provide the most comfortable experience, we will use a numbing agent before we begin.
- An impression will then be taken of the current state of your tooth to make your temporary crown.
- Once you are completely numb and ready for us to begin, we start preparing that tooth. This preparation involves removing the enamel (the outer covering of your tooth) and placing a cord that isolates the gums from the tooth.
- Once the tooth has been carefully prepared for a crown, we will take a secondary impression of the tooth to send over to our lab.
- At the end of your appointment we will apply your temporary crown, which you will wear for two weeks while our lab is crafting your crown. During those two weeks, there is a proper way in which you should be caring for your tooth. Please reference below under the heading “Before and After Dental Care” for information on how to care for your tooth, following your first appointment.
Your second appointment:
- The process of placing your permanent crown is very simple and generally only takes a few minutes to accomplish. We start by removing your temporary crown and properly cleaning away any excess glue or trapped debris. Once your crown has been evaluated and approved for placement, we will permanently cement your dental crown.
Before You Get a Dental Crown
Before making an appointment to get a dental crown, we recommend you make sure that you will not be leaving town for two weeks following the procedure. This is because you will be wearing a temporary crown, for that amount of time, while our lab crafts your permanent crown. Occasionally these temporary crowns break or come off. If this happens, there is no need to be alarmed; however, it is best that you come in to let us make you a new temporary to wear until your permanent one has been placed. To prevent a temporary dental crown from coming off, we recommend eating on the opposite side of you mouth, especially when it comes to food that is hard or sticky. We also suggest you do not floss the temporary dental crown.
After You Get a Dental Crown
Once your permanent dental crown has been seated, it is expected that you will continue to feel mild to moderate cold sensitivity for the next few weeks. This may continue up to a couple months. It is expected that the sensitivity should continually lessen. If it persists longer than a couple months or gets progressively worse, we ask that you contact us to set up an appointment so that we can further evaluate your tooth. It is also possible, once you leave our office with your permanent crown, that you will need further adjustments to correct occlusion (the way your teeth come together). It is our priority, as well as the priority of our lab, to provide a custom fit, and to keep your natural occlusion. However, it is nearly impossible to get the occlusion perfect every time. In the event that your crown is slightly out of occlusion, you will require a simple adjustment or two to correct it.
Other Crown Care
Lastly, but certainly not least, there is a proper way in which you should floss your new dental crown. You may already floss this way, but in the event that you do not, it is important when flossing dental crowns that you push floss into gums, then pull straight out (verses pushing the floss into the gums and pulling back out in a way the pulls on the crown). The cement we use to permanently seat a crown is very strong, however if you continue to floss in a way that tugs on the crown, with enough years this could wear the cement out and then you will need to come in for us to reseat it for you.
What To Do If Your Temporary Dental Crown Comes Off
This happens occasionally and there is no need for alarm. All you need to do is come back in to let us make you a new temporary dental crown. If this happens while we are out of the office, we recommend putting a drop of Vaseline into the temporary crown and placing it back on your tooth. This should hold up long enough for you to make it back into our office. We understand that the crown may break beyond being able to re-place the crown yourself. This is why we strongly recommend that you do not eat on the side with your temporary crown. However, if this does happen and you are forced to go a couple days without a covering on that tooth, make sure you maintain good oral hygiene and make an appointment to come in as soon as possible. What makes these temporary crowns so important goes beyond insulating the tooth from cold sensitivity. They are also used to hold the tooth in place. Without it the tooth may be prone to movement that may prevent the permanent crown from fitting tightly.