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Patients sometimes ask us, “what is a dental crown?” Some who know the basics still have questions about the process of getting a crown and what a crown can do for them.
A crown is a custom-made, tooth-shaped cap that fits over your natural tooth. Depending on your needs, the purpose of a crown may be restorative, protective, or aesthetic.
Please keep in mind that this article is purely for educational purposes. The dental crown procedure is an individually customized treatment done under the care of a skilled dentist. We hope this article helps you make informed choices about your oral health and wellness.
Benefits of a Crown
Crowns serve a wide range of clinical and cosmetic purposes. They can restore a severely damaged tooth or improve the appearance of a well-functioning yet unattractive tooth.
Dentists use crowns to protect and preserve natural teeth that are chipped, broken, fractured, or weakened. The crown serves as a protective cover for the fragile tooth. A crown may also reinforce a tooth that is vulnerable to extra wear and tear.
Crowns also have cosmetic applications as they can fix the appearance of badly stained, unevenly shaped, or cracked teeth. If there is a single tooth or a few teeth that you find unattractive, then chances are a crown is an option to improve its appearance.
In summary, a crown can address a range of clinical and cosmetic problems, including:
- A tooth or teeth weakened by severe tooth decay and deep cavities
- To protect a tooth after a root canal procedure
- To cover a dental implant
- A fractured, damaged or cracked tooth
- To fix some minor bite alignment issues
- To improve the appearance of uneven, misshaped, disproportionately small teeth
- To improve the appearance of stained or discolored teeth when whitening treatments won’t work
- Provide stability to a bridge or other dental appliances
As you can see, crowns are a versatile dentistry tool for solving a range of oral health and cosmetic problems.
What is a Dental Crown?
As mentioned, dental crowns serve a range of clinical and cosmetic purposes. They can restore a severely damaged tooth or improve the appearance of a well-functioning yet unattractive tooth. Dentists use crowns to protect and preserve natural teeth that are chipped, broken, or weakened.
Enamel is the hardest surface in the body, and it naturally protects the teeth. However, over time enamel wears down due to various causes, including sugary or acidic foods, overly vigorous brushing, grinding the teeth during sleep, poor dental hygiene, injury, or trauma. Once enamel is gone, it is gone. Remineralizing treatments and lifestyle changes can help, but a crown may be required once too much enamel is gone. The crown serves the function of the lost protective tooth enamel.
Crowns also have cosmetic applications as they can fix the appearance of badly stained, unevenly shaped, or cracked.
The crown itself is a thin, durable cap usually made from tooth-colored material that covers and protects the natural tooth inside. Occasionally, people confuse crowns with veneers. These two differ based on the amount of tooth structure that they cover. Veneers are a thin, tooth-colored cover used to cosmetically improve the tooth’s appearance without offering a crown’s protective casing.
A variety of materials are used to create crowns, including:
- Tooth-colored resin
- Metal like gold and others
- Porcelain-fused-to-metal (a combination of porcelain and metal).
Each of these materials has its own set of benefits and downsides. We often use ceramic since these crowns are attractive, durable, and can be custom-made within one visit using a special same-day crown system known as CEREC.
Your dental team takes pictures of your mouth, and those pictures are used to craft a custom-fitted crown.
Goodbye Temporary Crown, Hello One-Day Crown
If you ever had an “old-school” dental crown, it probably required two-three inconvenient appointments.
During your first appointment, your dentist prepares your tooth as it needs to be a specific shape to fit within the crown. Next, your dentist places a temporary crown to protect your tooth while you wait a few weeks for your lab-fabricated permanent crown to arrive.
You may need a second appointment after your temporary crown falls off, especially if that happens before your permanent crown is ready. Many people find it painful or uncomfortable when their temporary crown falls off.
Your final appointment will be scheduled after your permanent crown arrives. Your dentist will then place your permanent crown. This process often takes two weeks assuming there are no delays along the way. Fortunately, you may not need to endure this process if you opt for same-day crowns.
At Southview Dentistry, we offer same-day crowns whenever possible. CEREC stands for “Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics” and is a leader in same-day crown technology.
Using CEREC’s CAD and CAM imaging technology, we can take the three-dimensional images in-house without sending the images to a dental lab. Next, the CEREC proprietary machine crafts a custom-fitted crown out of ceramic in just a few minutes. The durable crown may last ten years or longer.
Not only is this process faster and more convenient, but it is also more comfortable for you as the patient. A one-day crown requires fewer dental visits, less drilling, and less invasive work than a traditional crown. Since preparing the tooth and placing the crown can be uncomfortable, your dentist will use an anesthetic. Fewer visits mean fewer injections to administer the anesthesia.
At Southview Dentistry, we strive to use modern technology and best practices to provide a better patient experience. Same-day crowns are one way we meet this goal.
Schedule Your Consultation
If you are interested in the comfort and convenience of same-day crowns, you must first find a dentist trained in the technology and procedures. The specialized equipment is expensive and requires staff with appropriate expertise.
Southview Dentistry is pleased to offer same-day crowns to our Charlotte-area patients. As general and cosmetic dentists, we love helping our community achieve oral health and radiant smiles.
We at Southview Dentistry feel privileged that Charlotte-area residents have trusted us since 2009. Contact us today to schedule a consultation or examination whether you need a new crown or other dental care.