Crowns are made from porcelain or metal, or a mixture of both, and are placed over your natural tooth or root to restore your natural bite and improve your smile. It is sometimes called a “cap” and is used where the tooth is dead and root-filled or where there is a large amount of natural tooth lost and a filling, alone, will no longer be possible. It can also help to support a bridge or part denture.
Most crowns are made from porcelain fused to metal to give them strength, but also to appear as natural as possible. Back molar teeth are replaced with all-metal crowns, under NHS regulations, but you will always be given the opportunity to choose a white/tooth coloured crown. In the front of your mouth, where your bite is less heavy, purely porcelain crowns may be used. These are not as strong as bonded/ all metal crowns but all for less tooth to be removed during preparation. New “all-ceramic” crowns are made from reinforced porcelain and provide a metal-free alternative for back teeth, which has been proven to combine the increased strength of a bonded crown with the more natural appearance of a purely porcelain crown.
The crown will be prepared over at least 2 visits and you will wear a temporary crown in between, where appropriate. The preparation feels much like getting a large filling and is carried out under local anaesthetic. The tooth is reduced in size leaving a strong central core, unless the tooth has been previously root treated. If this is the case, your dentist may use the root of the tooth to help support the finished crown, with a post, as not enough healthy tooth remains above the gum line. A mould of your teeth will then be taken and sent to the dental technician who will prepare a crown which matches your surrounding teeth, in shape and colour, as agreed with your dentist. At the next visit, the crown will then be fitted and may feel unusual at first, as your bite will be slightly different from your natural tooth / temporary crown, but this feeling should disappear after the first week. Your dentist is able to adjust your crown, in the small proportion which require it.
Crowns vary in cost depending on the material the crown is made from and the time the crown takes to prepare in the surgery and in the dental lab. Your crown should last for many years if properly cared for. This means cleaning between your crown and natural teeth with toothbrushing and interdental cleaning. Remember, your crown is fitted onto natural tooth which is susceptible to dental decay, as are all of your natural teeth.