Crowns are entire tooth-shaped caps custom-designed to perfectly match your natural teeth' color, shape, and size. Your budget and the location of the crown placement determine what material your dentist and the lab use to create your crown. Some choices include:
All-porcelain or porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns most beautifully resemble your natural teeth and are often chosen for teeth visible when you smile. An all-metal crown is so durable that it's the best choice for your hard-grinding molars, which usually can't be seen. Resin crowns are the most affordable.
Depending on why you need a crown, we may need to reshape the tooth that receives it. We remove just enough of the original tooth so the crown can slip easily into place to look and act like your natural crown.
Addie Chang, DMD, is a skilled and caring dentist in Tukwila, Washington, who may recommend a crown for either tooth preservation, tooth restoration, or tooth replacement. What exactly can a crown do, and when might you need one? Read on to find out.
The last thing you want to do is extract a tooth that can be saved. If you have a cracked, chipped, or broken tooth that can't function independently, a crown could save it.
After Dr. Chang modifies your tooth, she slips a customized crown over the entire portion above your gum. The crown stabilizes the tooth, protects it from further breakage, and prevents bacteria from entering cracks or fissures.
Most importantly, saving a tooth with a crown allows you to keep your natural roots. Roots not only anchor your tooth to your jawbone, but they also help your jawbone continue to produce healthy new bone cells.
Dr. Chang may recommend a root canal procedure when you have an infected or deeply decayed tooth. During a root canal, she opens up your tooth and clears away the infected material into the root canals, which are tubes extending into your tooth's roots.
Once the tooth has been cleaned and disinfected, she fills the interior with gutta-percha, a natural rubber that keeps it stable and clean. She then caps the open tooth with a crown to seal it, strengthen it, and allow you to keep your tooth and its root.
Although professional whitening removes many types of tooth stains, including those from red wine and coffee, you may have a tooth so deeply stained that it can't be significantly lightened. Or, you took medications that altered your tooth's color.
You may also have a tooth that's ill-formed and attracts attention. A crown covers a tooth's aesthetic defects while blending in with your other teeth.
If you have metal fillings in your mouth, you may want to remove them for your safety. Some metals are toxic and may affect your health. You can use a crown to either cap the existing filling or remove it and then fill and crown it.
Also, if you have a large resin filling, it could be in danger of falling out. By placing a crown over the filling, Dr. Chang protects it and keeps it in place.
You could benefit from a dental bridge when you're missing a few teeth in a row. A dental bridge spans the gap created by missing teeth, filling it with false teeth that match your natural teeth.
Dr. Chang may recommend inserting dental implants or creating abutment teeth to secure the bridge. If you choose the latter, she reshapes a tooth on either side of the gap so that they can accept a crown. The two crowns on either side of the bridge serve as anchors to keep your bridge secure.
When you receive a dental implant, the titanium post Dr. Chang inserts deep into your jaw — where it fuses with the bone — serves as a new, false root. The implant is topped with an abutment cap, on which she then affixes a crown (i.e., false tooth). The crown on your implant looks and functions just like a natural tooth.