14 Jan Crowns and Bridges
A dental crown, sometimes known as a “cap”, is a dental prosthetic that replaces the outer surface of the tooth above the gum line. This is done to restore the appearance of the tooth, as well as its strength and shape.
Dental crowns can be needed for a number of different reasons, including cavities that are too severe for a filling, a cracked tooth, if you’ve had a root canal, or for cosmetic reasons. Similarly to fillings, there are several types of crowns, including stainless steel, metal alloys, porcelain that has been fused to metal, or composite resin.
Getting a crown usually takes two visits to your dentist, which may include taking some x-rays. Your dentist will prepare the tooth by removing portions of the top and sides of the tooth to make room for the crown. Alternatively, if the tooth is heavily decayed, your dentist may use a filling material to create the appropriate mass on which to place the crown.
As with fillings, a local anesthesia will be applied to the surrounding area to numb the tooth and surrounding gum tissue. Once the tooth is the proper shape to accept the crown, your dentist will make an impression, using either a paste, putty, or digitally scanning the tooth. The impression is then sent to a dental lab where the crown is made. This process can take several weeks, so you will likely get a temporary crown to protect the tooth while the crown is being made. Once the new crown is ready, you will come back to have it installed.
Crowns can also be used in tandem to replace a tooth that is missing entirely. This is known as a “bridge”, and it requires a series of at least three crowns. The two teeth on either side of the missing tooth, called abutment teeth in this scenario, get crowns as described above, with a third crown, called a “pontic”, between the two. These three (or more) crowns form the bridge, in which the pontic fills the gap where the missing tooth was, anchored by the abutment tooth crowns.