Many have heard of the crown of your tooth, but how does a clinical type differ from the anatomic and artificial kind? Stick around, and we’ll walk you through the answers to your most pressing questions, like “what is a clinical crown?” and “what procedures might I need for my crown?”
What Is a Clinical Crown?
Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications
Simply put, your clinical crown is the portion of your tooth visible above the gumline. For this reason, its size and shape can differ based on how high or low your gums come in your mouth.
To understand the clinical crown, it’s best to learn some quick anatomy. The top (also known as the crown) of your tooth is covered in a hard layer known as enamel. The bottom (also known as the root) is instead protected by cementum. Some people will have only their enamel visible above their gumline, while others will be able to see the portion that’s hidden below the gums in others.
The term “crown” is used in various ways, so it may help differentiate them.
- Clinical crown: The visible region of your teeth not covered by your gums, including your visible enamel-covered anatomic crowns and visible root.
- Anatomic crown: The top portion of your teeth is covered in enamel, including parts covered by your gums.
- Artificial crown: A restoration in the form of a cap that replaces most of your entire clinical crown.
Your teeth' crowns are vital not only for your appearance but for chewing and placement of dental restorations. Your teeth typically require dental restorations after injury, or improper dental care leads to tooth decay or gum disease.
Clinical crowns have a great degree of variation in how they appear in your personal smile.
Factors that can affect the appearance of your clinical crowns include:
- Your natural, inherited gumline
- Gum recession from improper dental care
- Their size relative to your jaw, facial bones, lips, and teeth
Gum recession can expose the root of your tooth that’s typically protected by your gums from decay and damage. This is because the root is shielded by cementum instead of enamel covering the top of your tooth, making it more vulnerable.
There are a few conditions and problems that can occur with your clinical crowns, particularly when it comes to your gums and the teeth themselves.
- Crown lengthening: If your gum covers an uncommon amount of your clinical crown, it can lead to unhappiness with your appearance or make it difficult to place restorations. Your dental professional may recommend this procedure to expose more of the tooth, providing a brighter smile.
- Teeth contouring: If your teeth appear long or irregular, in some cases, your dental professional may recommend this procedure to assist with your appearance, bite, or alignment.
- Gingivectomy: If you have excess gum tissue, your dental professional may recommend removing it surgically.
- Gingival flap surgery: This procedure is used for advanced gum disease patients when other techniques have been ineffective. Your dental professional cleans the roots of your teeth and repairs bone tissue.
- Surgical extrusion: This procedure to treat damaged teeth involves repositioning them in your mouth to help promote the growth of a healthy supporting structure.
While these methods differ in approach and situations where they’re utilized, they share some common things. Be sure to schedule a visit with your dental professional to get their expert recommendation on the best procedure for your condition (if any!).
Dental procedures vary greatly in the recovery time, based mostly on how invasive the procedure is. Some surgical interventions will require general anesthesia, while some will numb an area of your mouth with a local anesthetic, or not at all. If a procedure addresses an underlying problem, you may find yourself feeling better as soon as it is over, or the recovery could take days, weeks, or longer for tissue to regrow.
Steps to take during recovery from your dental procedure include:
- Follow the aftercare instructions provided by your dental professional
- Get some rest! You just went through a challenging procedure and should take it easy.
- Brush and floss gently (per the instructions of your dental professional), especially around the affected area
- Avoid smoking and tobacco products.
- Avoid hard, difficult-to-chew, and sticky foods to not damage or strain your mouth.
- Use medications as prescribed and over-the-counter medications as instructed on the packaging
- Apply a cold compress to your cheek for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off
- Follow up with your dental professional if you experience unusual pain, bleeding, or side effects.
It can be confusing separating the different types of crowns, but you now understand how clinical crowns differ from the anatomic and artificial variety. There is a range of surgical procedures available to assist with associated problems for medical and cosmetic reasons. You’ve made a great choice to inform yourself about the ins and outs of clinical crowns.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.