What are Dental Crowns and How to Take Care of Them?

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If you have been to the dentist regularly (as you should!), you must have heard of the term dental crown. To simply put, a dental crown is a cap for a damaged tooth. You may need a crown if the tooth is decayed, or perhaps you may need multiple dental crowns. Either way, your dentist will guide you and discuss the different options you have to best suit your requirements. In this article, let us dive deeper into dental crowns and how to maintain them.

Who needs a dental crown?

Dental crowns are usually needed when one has a large cavity that is too big for a filling. Other times, you may need a crown if your tooth is cracked, weakened, or severely worn down. Sometimes a dental crown is recommended after a root canal procedure because the tooth is fragile and needs to be protected.

Types of tooth crowns

When choosing a dental crown, you must take into consideration different factors, such as strength, durability, and cost. Typically, various types of tooth crowns are available, depending on the material they are made of. Here are the types of crowns based on the material used:

  • Ceramic crown

  • Metal crown

  • Porcelain crown

  • Zirconia crown

  • Composite resin crown

  • Combination of materials crown

The dentist is the right person to decide which kind of material will be the best for your dental crown. You can discuss with the dentist if you have any personal preference, then the dentist can take it ahead from there. While choosing the material for the crown, here are the factors your dental professional will consider

  • The location of your tooth

  • Colour of the surrounding teeth

  • The function of the tooth that requires the crown

  • Position of the gum tissue

  • How much of the tooth will be visible when you smile

  • How much natural tooth is remaining

Now that you know how the crowns are chosen, here are the types of dental crowns your dentist may recommend, depending on the condition of the tooth and the various factors mentioned above:

  1. Temporary crown:

    As the name suggests, a temporary crown is a dental crown that only remains in your mouth for a short time frame. It is not as strong as a permanent crown because it needs to be removed after a while, so the dentist will place it over your damaged tooth with an easily removable adhesive. Usually, a temporary crown is done in the first appointment, while you wait for the second appointment when the tooth will get a permanent crown.

  2. One-day crown:

    This is a type of dental crown you can get in a single appointment. It is usually designed and crafted from ceramic right in the dental clinic, based on your requirement. Same-day crown installation can be done using methods such as computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) and the like.

  3. 3/4 or onlay crown:

    This type of dental crown only covers a portion of the tooth. The dentist might suggest this type of crown when your tooth does not require a full crown.

Dental crown procedure

Depending on whether your dental professional goes for a same-day or multi-day tooth crown treatment, the procedure for installing a dental crown will vary. Here is what you should know about both the procedures:

  1. Multi-day procedure:

    Traditionally, a dental crown procedure requires two visits to the dental clinic. These are the steps that are usually followed -

    • The first step the dentist takes while preparing a tooth for a crown is to examine the tooth. X-rays and moulds of the tooth are taken.

    • Then the dentist will file down the tooth and remove the outer layer of it.

    • Next, an impression will be taken of the trimmed tooth and the teeth surrounding the same.

    • A temporary crown will be fitted over the tooth to protect it.

    • Then the tooth impression will be sent to the lab, where it will be made - it could take several weeks for the crown to be built.

    • When the dental crown comes in, you will have to go for the second visit where the permanent crown will be installed and cemented onto your tooth.

  2. Same-day procedure:

    In this procedure, the temporary crown step is skipped. Instead-

    • Your dentist takes digital pictures of the mouth.

    • The crown is created right there in the dental clinic. It usually takes about an hour or two.

    • Then once the crown is ready, it is cemented onto the tooth. The entire process takes 2-4 hours.

How to maintain the dental crown

Once a dental crown is installed, it is essential to take proper care of it to prolong its life. Here are some tips on how to maintain a dental crown:

  1. Brush carefully:

    Your teeth may feel sensitive after putting in a crown, so the key is to not brush too vigorously. Brush twice a day, but be careful not to wear out the dental crown or hurt the surrounding teeth. You can try Oral-B Ultrathin Sensitive Toothbrush to brush your teeth when you have a dental crown installed. It has 20x thinner bristle tips that stay gentle on the gums and clean efficiently between the teeth. The bristles are also cup-shaped, which means that they cover each tooth and provide a deep clean. Don’t forget to floss daily; you can use the Oral-B essential waxed floss to give your teeth a deep clean every day.

  2. Avoid hard foods:

    Chewing hard foods or ice can cause the crown to crack, especially if it is made up of porcelain. So make sure you avoid hard foods and do not bite into the ice.

  3. Night guard:

    In case you clench or grind your teeth in sleep, your dentist may recommend a night guard to protect the crown and the teeth surrounding it.

There are many choices for dental crowns, and your dentist will help you choose which is the right fit for you. Talk to your dental professional about your specific dental needs and go forward from there. Once the crown is installed, make sure you take good care of it.

Read more about how to brush your teeth and other oral care tips