Dental Crowns, what are they?
Why we need dental crowns.
Bacteria, decay, trauma…these are all enemies of our teeth. Often times without proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits, these enemies win some battles against our teeth. Dental crowns are a way of giving reinforcement to those damaged teeth.
Bacteria is the main culprit. They will eat the food particles stuck in grooves in your teeth, producing waste as it does so. This waste is actually acidic and can really eat away at tooth enamel (the outside layer of teeth and the strongest material in the human body), and eats through the dentin (the next layer) even faster. When too much tooth structure is eaten away, broken off, or if a large old filling is beginning to wear down and needing to be replaced, a crown is often the best option. Teeth that have had a root canal also would necessitate a crown as a large part of the tooth structure needs to be removed during a root canal therapy procedure. On top of that, teeth with their roots removed are no longer “alive” and over time become brittle (they could end up breaking easily), so a crown is used to protect that tooth and maintain an aesthetic appearance (teeth without roots also may become discolored over time).
Modern crowns (specifically for those placed on molars) are incredibly strong. In fact certain new types of crowns are even stronger than your enamel (which, as mentioned before is the strongest material in your body). Check out this video of one being hit with a hammer:
That material is known as BruxZir®, and it’s being compared with PFM (or Porcelain Fused to Metal). As you can see modern ceramic crowns are incredibly strong and beautifully aesthetic, made to mimic the natural color and shape of your own teeth. Among the dental crowns out there, BruxZir® is one of my favorite types.
To recap; dental crowns are placed on teeth that have compromised structural integrity. They are used to protect the tooth from breaking or becoming further destroyed by other means. Crowns are used to help “save” your teeth. The reason one would want to “save” his teeth (opposed to having your tooth extracted) is that, when a tooth is removed it can cause other problems, such as: jaw bone loss, bite problems, chewing difficulty, and more. It’s for these reasons that we, in the dentist office try to do everything we can to prevent loss of your whole, natural tooth.
Crowns can also be used for purely aesthetic options, but because it is a less conservative approach (more tooth structure must be reduced for a crown than other cosmetic options), it’s not always the first thing we would look at. With crowns you can actually reshape how your tooth looks, as well as change the actual color to be brighter. A consult with the dentist can help determine if this would be a good option for you, or if other cosmetic options are available.
How dental crowns are usually done.
Getting a dental crown is a pretty straightforward procedure. The dentist would first usually numb the area using local anesthetic. He would then use a dental drill to carefully remove any decay in that tooth being worked on. After this, they would have to reshape the tooth in such a way as to allow a crown to fit on top of it. After they have shaped the tooth in the correct way, an impression is taken of that tooth, usually by the dental assistant, and the impression is then used by a lab to make the crown. During this appointment, a temporary crown will be fabricated to keep the tooth covered while the lab is working on your permanent one. The dental lab will make a dental crown that will precisely fit the tooth receiving it. When the crown comes back, you would then come in to get it permanently cemented onto the tooth.
If you are in the Washington, DC area and are interested in dental crowns, or to find out if you are in need of one, you can always call us for an appointment at 202.822.8777. We’re right off of the Dupont Circle Metro Station at 1234 19th St. NW, Suite 400.
I hope this helped clear up what dental crowns are for you!
Stay healthy my friends.