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The Essential Guide to Dental Crowns: What You Need to Know

Essential Guide to Dental Crowns

A dental crown is a prosthetic replica of your tooth’s naturally formed crown. It fits over your tooth, covering weak or worn structures underneath. Their full-coverage design sometimes leads crowns to be called “caps.”
The crown of your tooth is the portion of your tooth you can see above your gumline. It is covered in an outer layer of white enamel. When your natural tooth develops decay or a cavity, Dr. McOmie or Dr. Hall may recommend a simple filling after they clean out the decayed portion of the tooth and replace it with a composite or amalgam material. However, sometimes when tooth decay is extensive and has broken down a significant portion of your anatomical crown, a fabricated dental crown is made in a lab to reinforce your natural tooth. Dental crowns may also be necessary when teeth have undergone root canal treatment, as the supporting ends of fixed bridges, or to rest on top of a dental implant for single tooth replacement.

Reasons Why You May Need a Dental Crown

Extensive Tooth Decay

When a cavity compromises a significant portion of your tooth, cleaning out the decayed portion and repairing it with filling can be nearly impossible. Especially when there’s limited tooth structure to help hold a filling in place. With a limited surface area, there need to be more natural teeth left for our Chattanooga dentists to work with, and the filling will not stay in place. A crown helps protect the remaining tooth structure so that it doesn’t break down from everyday use.

Cover a Root Canal Treated Tooth

When a tooth undergoes a root canal (endodontic therapy), the blood supply and nerve tissues of the tooth are removed. Because of this procedure and the lack of blood supply, the tooth becomes fragile and prone to breakage, even though it’s no longer infected. If you have a root canal on a back tooth, such as a molar or premolar, these almost always require a crown to withstand significant chewing pressure. Placing a crown over your tooth reinforces the tooth’s structure and enables it to function more efficiently.

Protect and Restore a Fractured Tooth

If a tooth is cracked, fractured, or broken to the point that the inner layers of the tooth are exposed, a strong cover is usually needed to prevent additional breakage. Before placing a crown, a buildup will usually be performed. A buildup is a restorative procedure that creates a foundation for the crown. It’s important to note that if a tooth is fractured within the root, a crown may not be possible, and the entire tooth may need to be extracted.

Implant Crowns

When a dental implant is placed within a patient’s jaw bone, a crown must be secured on top of the implant itself (because the implant essentially only serves as the “root” of your new “tooth.”) Typically; these crowns are attached to the implant via an abutment after the implant has integrated with the surrounding bone. This is an essential step for implants to allow for the implant to function and look like a natural tooth. Implants are often a great treatment option to replace missing teeth and can last for life when maintained properly.

Stained Tooth/Aesthetic Concerns

While there are multiple cosmetic dental treatments in Chattanooga for correcting heavily stained teeth (such as whitening, veneers and composite restorations,) sometimes a crown is the best option! Perhaps your tooth is severely misshaped, discolored, or has an anatomical discrepancy that requires added reinforcement. In this case, Dr. McOmie or Dr. Hall may recommend a crown to correct the aesthetic appearance of your tooth.

“Crowns” Support Dental Bridges

A dental bridge is a multi-tooth, fixed dental restoration that replaces one or more missing teeth. Essentially a dental bridge can appear as multiple crown restorations that connect, with the crowns on the ends attached to a pair of teeth or dental implants. The artificial crown suspended between them is called a “pontic.” Bridges are a great way to replace missing teeth as long as surrounding teeth or implants can serve as anchors.

What Materials Are Used to Make Dental Crowns?

Dental crowns can be made up of different materials. The most common materials include porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, ceramic, zirconia, and resin. Other options like stainless steel and gold also tend to be used less often or in more selective situations. For instance, we may suggest a gold crown in a less noticeable area if the tooth is exposed to heavy biting forces. Stainless steel crowns are only used temporarily and usually for restoring primary (baby) teeth while a child’s mouth is still developing.

Is a Dental Crown Painful?

Our Chattanooga dentists provide dental crowns on an everyday basis. Like dental fillings and other routine treatments, this procedure should be comfortable with the help of local anesthesia. When your tooth is numbed, we will shape and prepare it for the crown, install a temporary restoration, and affix the permanent “cap” after our lab creates it. In some cases, same-day dental crowns may be available.

Do I Need a Dental Crown?

A dental crown is a great option for our Chattanooga patients with significant tooth damage and wear. However, it’s always best to discuss your treatment options with Dr. McOmie or Dr. Hall to know your options. Most dental crowns can last 5-15 years when properly cared for. The key is to brush and floss around every tooth—crown or not—to limit plaque buildup throughout your smile.

At McOmie Family Dentistry, we’re here to educate and support you in the best oral health decisions for you and your smile! Call our office today if you need dental crown treatment in Chattanooga or want to consider other options like bridges, fillings, and dental implants.

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