A good mechanic won't just wash and wax your car – they'll check under the hood to make sure it's running right. You can think of dentists as mechanics for your mouth. They excel at keeping your smile shiny, but every so often they need to repair a tooth. In addition to treatments like filling cavities and performing root canals, one important repair involves putting a metal cap on teeth.
Types of Caps for Teeth
A cap is another name for a crown, a fixed prosthetic crown that is cemented onto a tooth to cover a broken or damaged biting surface. A crown can also improve the alignment and appearance of teeth. Dental professionals are constantly researching newmaterials for crowns, from ceramic and metal to newer materials like zirconia. Each type of cap has specific traits that make it unique.
- Porcelain or ceramic is often used for restoring front teeth since its color blends well with natural enamel. One drawback of this material is that the dentist might need to remove some of the original tooth to secure the porcelain. Ceramic caps are brittle and can be damaged over time by the pressure of biting.
- Porcelain fused to metal crowns are highly durable and do a better job restoring a tooth for the long-term than porcelain alone. The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health found that more than 60 percent of these crowns remain strong and undamaged for longer than eight years after they are placed. One downside is that they can be expensive.
- Gold alloys contain gold, copper and other metals, and bond extremely securely to teeth. Gold alloys won't fracture or wear, and the gold allow crown won't wear on the surrounding teeth.
- Base metal alloys, such as stainless steel, are strong and highly resistant to corrosion. Base metal caps require the least amount of healthy enamel to adhere to, making them a good choice for extremely decayed or broken teeth. Metal capsare also a hardier choice for your hardworking back teeth.
- Zirconia and resin are two newer cap materials available today. Zirconia combines the durability of a metal cap on teeth with the natural look of porcelain, making it a favorite for many pediatric dentists, says Dental Economics. Resin crowns can wear and discolor over time, but may be less expensive than other types of caps.
Cap Placement and Recovery
With traditional dental technology, a patient will need two appointments for a successful crown placement. On the first visit, your dentist will make sure the damaged tooth can support a cap. If it's strong enough, they will either file or fill the tooth to prepare it for placement, take an impression of the tooth for making the permanent cap and place a temporary crown. On your second visit, the temporary cap will be removed and the permanent one cemented to your tooth.
Some dental offices use CAD/CAM technology and 3D printing to install crowns in a single visit. Measurements can be taken and a cap made and placed while you are in the office instead of sending the impression out to a lab for milling a crown.
The patient shouldn't feel any discomfort or tooth sensitivity once a crown is placed. If a root canal wasn't previously performed on the tooth, the nerve might still be susceptible to sensitivity problems. Talk to your dentist if your teeth become painful or sensitive to cold, hot or sweet foods.
A metal cap (crown) on teeth should last between five through 15 years depending on wear and tear, according to theCleveland Clinic. Practicing good oral hygiene by brushing at least twice a day and flossing regularly will help keep your new cap shiny and strong.