What is a Crown?
A crown is essentially a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth. The main objective of placing a crown is it can protect a fragile tooth that is heavily broken down and also restore the shape and function of the original tooth.
Crowns are also used to improve the appearance of discoloured and/or chipped teeth or even change the shape of the original teeth.
When Do You Need a Crown?
There are few situations that require your tooth to be restored with a crown. Here are some of the common indications:
Tooth with large filling: When a tooth has a large filling, it means that if has lose most of it tooth structure to either tooth decay or a fracture in the past. The remaining tooth around the large filling will be structurally weak and is prone to further fracture.
Placing a crown on such a weakened tooth is like the tooth wearing a “helmet”, preventing it from further crack or fracture of the fragile tooth or its filling during chewing function.
Root canal treated tooth: Root canal treatment weaken the strength of the tooth as the procedure requires the tooth to be hollowed out. Most common reason for a tooth to receive a root canal treatment is tooth decay that destroy portion of the tooth and weaken it too.
Therefore, almost all root canal treated tooth needs a crown to protect the weakened tooth from fracturing during function.
Fractured tooth: Tooth with large filling or even a sound tooth without any filling will crack or fracture under the forces of chewing. Accidentally biting on a hard object like a grain of sand, bone or shell may also fracture a tooth.
Whether a fractured tooth can be saved depends on the severity of the fracture, the depth and angle of the fracture line, the health of the pulp (nerve of the tooth) and the gum condition of the tooth.
Our dentist will recommend you the possible treatment options based on their clinical findings. If the tooth can be saved, a crown is usually needed to protect the fragile tooth.
Cracked tooth syndrome: Micro or very small cracks can appear in the tooth after many years of chewing as part of the wear and tear of our body parts. Chewing forces produces stress on these small crack lines that may enlarge with time and split the tooth apart.
A crown will hold the tooth together and prevent further crack development.
Excessive wear of teeth: There are a group of people who grind their teeth at night (bruxism) and this will speed up the wear on the teeth compared to those who do not grind their teeth.
Premature loss of the protective enamel layer of the tooth due to the accelerated wear will expose the softer second layer of the tooth (dentin) and speed up wearing down effect. Another group of patient with severely worn-down teeth are those with teeth formed with poorer enamel quality of a softer nature.
These defective teeth tend to wear down much faster compared to normal teeth.
Unattractive appearance of teeth: Teeth with unattractive appearance due to colour, shape, position or spaces issues can be corrected with natural looking crowns with the desirable colour and shape. Dental veneers are a very conservative and effective way of improving the look of the front teeth.
They look natural and sometime may require only very little or even no shaving of the existing teeth.
Crown on dental implant: Dental implants are placed to restore spaces with missing teeth.
The titanium support requires natural looking crowns to recreate the lost tooth.
How Long Does it Take to Do a Dental Crown?
It typically takes 2 separate appointments to make and place a new crown for our patient.
The time needed for the first appointment range from 1-2 hours and it involves:
- Preparing (shaping) the tooth,
- Taking its impression and
- Placing a temporary crown.
When you return for your second appointment, our dentist will need to check the fit, shape and colour of the newly made crown in your mouth. Usually, some minor adjustment is made to the crown before it is finally cemented into place. This visit may take 30-60 minutes.
Types of Dental Crowns
Dental crowns are classified depending on its material:
- All Porcelain Crown – pure ceramic material.
- All Metal Crown – purely metal, normally gold or cobalt-chromium.
- Porcelain Fused to Metal Crown – a porcelain veneer is fused to an inner metal shell
- Temporary/Plastic Crowns – temporarily used while waiting for the permanent crown to be fitted.
Our dentists will recommend you the appropriate crown for the right clinical situations in regards to aesthetic, functional and longevity factors.
Will the Procedure of Doing a Dental Crown be Painful?
The procedure may cause slight discomfort or pain if the tooth is alive. Our dentist will manage it by using a local anaesthetic to numb the tooth and surrounding tissue before performing the trimming procedures.
For teeth which have had underwent root-canal treatment, there is no need for local anaesthetic as there is no more nerve on that tooth, thus the tooth will not feel any uncomfortable sensation.
How is a Dental Crown Done?
The tooth is first trimmed by the dentist and a “mould” of the tooth is taken. The shade and colour of the crown is also taken so that the new crown will blend with the rest of the natural teeth.
The mould is sent off to the dental laboratory to be custom-made according to the dentist’s instructions. While waiting for the permanent tooth to be made in the laboratory which may take up to 10-14 days, a temporary crown will be made to cover the tooth.
When the permanent crown is ready, the patient returns to the clinic to have it cemented over the tooth.
When will I need a crown instead of a filling?
When a tooth is badly broken down, it is more prone to fracture. Filling does not make a repaired tooth stronger but instead, the filling lying within the tooth, acts as a wedge that may split the tooth when chewing pressure is applied to the filling. The crown works like a helmet, covering all around the weakened tooth so that the tooth covered with a crown has no area of weakness to crack under pressure. The crown serves a few functions including protection of the fragile tooth, restore the shape of a badly broken-down tooth, colour and thus restores the function of the tooth back to normal.
There are so many types of material available for crown? How do I decide which is the most suitable for me?
There are a few factors to consider when deciding which type of crown is the most suitable for your situation. Some of these factors include the position of the tooth, material, appearance, cost, strength and longevity. Our dentist will recommend the right crown with your need in mind during the consultation session.
Why is crown so expensive? It is just a cover.
There are various costs involved in making of a crown. The crown is literally a piece of work of art and science by the close partnership of a dentist and a laboratory technician. It is a highly, labour-intensive procedure that requires a large amount of time and multiple visits at the clinic and work by the dentist. The most important cost is the amount of dental materials used for the preparation and making of the mould of the crown, the amount of time the dentist spends on shaping the tooth and also the cost of sending out the crown to be made by a dental laboratory.
Is there a limitation to what kind of food I can eat after I have a crown?
You can eat almost all food after having your new crown placed in your mouth. There are just a few precautions to take in order to prolong the longevity of your new crown. Do not bite on extremely hard food or object like ice, bone or our favourite chilli crab shell. The outer layer of the crown is made of a very hard porcelain material that give the crown a life-like and natural look. Porcelain is a glass-like material, very hard but to a point of extreme pressure, it can break and fracture like normal glass. This advice on avoiding your crown to bite very hard food also extend to your other natural teeth as they can fracture under heavy pressure, thus risking either spending more money to repair or save the cracked tooth with filling, root-canal treatment and crown or worse, to be extracted if they cannot be cannot be salvaged
Can I eat immediately after getting my crown?
Yes, you can eat right after getting your new crown but we would recommend that your chew on the other side for the rest of the day to allow the cement of the crowned tooth to harden.