If you have a severely damaged tooth, you might be talking to your dentist about a crown soon. A dental crown is a tooth-shaped "cap" that covers a tooth and restores its appearance and function.
Why would I need to get a crown?
- Cap a damaged or decayed tooth after it has been repaired or damaged
- Improve a discolored tooth
- Hold a dental bridge in place
- Hold together a cracked tooth
- Protection after a root canal
- Protection after a dental implant
Depending on your situation, your dentist will suggest a material, as there are several types of crowns:
- Porcelain fused to metal (PFM)
How does my dentist prepare a crown for my tooth?
There are a few steps that go into assessing and trimming your tooth for a crown. If you have a deep cavity that reaches the pulp (where the nerve is), you'll need a root canal first. If not much of your original tooth is above the gum line, the dentist might build a foundation for the crown using a filler material.
Getting a crown usually involves two visits to the dentist if the tooth does not need a root canal, and much of the tooth structure remains above the gum line. At the first appointment, your dentist will likely trim down the tooth to make room for the crown to fit comfortably. Then, your dentist will begin taking the impression for the crown. The dentist will place a tray with impression material onto the trimmed tooth and then ask you to bite into the impression paste until the material sets. After the impression material dries, the dentist will remove the impression tray and send it to the dental laboratory. The dental laboratory will make the final crown. Your dentist will make a temporary crown to be placed on your tooth temporarily until your permanent crown returns from the dental laboratory.
At your second appointment, your dentist will remove the temporary crown and fit the permanent one, making sure it feels right before cementing it into place.
What can I expect after getting a crown?
You might have some sensitivity after getting your crown. If you notice sensitivity when you bite down, the crown may need adjustment — something your dentist can easily address.
If you have a PFM crown, you may notice a thin, dark line next to your gums on the crowned tooth; that's normal. This line may be the thin metal edge of the crown that is noticeable. It's nothing to be concerned about unless the appearance bothers you, in which your dentist might be able to replace the crown with a different material.
Remember to brush and floss regularly to keep your gumline healthy and your crown in good condition.