Tooth Crowns Explained

Confidental Greenwich dentist, Dr Lynn Hutchinson, discusses the procedures that use a dental crown

Along with fillings and extractions, the use of a dental crown is probably one of the most common restorative procedures that is used at dental practices across the UK.

It is a strong and versatile solution to a number of problems and, with good care, should last the patient for many years.

In today’s blog, we thought that it would be useful to look at what a crown is, and some of the more common procedures that make good use of this restorative item.

What is a dental crown?

A crown, or as it used to be more commonly known, a ‘cap’ is usually made from porcelain, porcelain bonded to metal, or increasingly, newer materials such as Zirconia. They are used to ‘cap’ a tooth that has been damaged or treated, and is shaped and ‘styled’ so that it matches the patient’s current teeth.

What procedures is it used for?

The most common reasons for using a dental crown are as follows:

Broken tooth – Whilst a filling is the most likely first option; where a breakage, or cavity is too large for a filling to offer sufficient strength, a crown may be produced and fitted instead. This not only protects the tooth, but gives sufficient strength for the tooth to be used for normal daily routine.

Root canal treatment – When a root canal treatment is carried out, it is often necessary for the dentist at the Confidental Clinic to remove the top section of the tooth, so that the root canals can be accessed.  Although, once the canals have been cleaned, a special filling is used to offer some strength and protect the canals, this is usually too weak on its own to be strong enough for the patient to use the tooth to eat with. To offer the additional strength needed, a dental crown is usually attached to complete the restoration.

Dental implants – Crowns are also used as the final part of a dental implant procedure. Once the implant itself has been placed and integrated with the bone, an abutment is attached to allow a crown to be added to the new artificial tooth. This makes for a natural looking and very strong tooth replacement.

Cosmetic purposes – Although usually used for practical reasons, crowns can also  be used in a cosmetic dental procedure to restore the appearance of teeth that have been worn down and appear shorter than usual. This could, for example, happen with someone who has a tooth grinding (bruxism) habit, once they have managed to overcome it.

How are they produced?

If you need to have a crown fitted, impressions will be taken of the tooth once it has been shaped to allow for correct alignment. These impressions are then sent to a dental laboratory, where the crowns are made. In many cases, you will be provided with a temporary crown to protect the tooth for this short period, which is usually around a week or two before the final crowns are returned to us for fitting.

Aftercare

Although a crown will not decay as it is made from an artificial material, it is important to clean it as you do your other teeth. Gum disease is still a potential issue and, if the natural part of the supporting tooth decays, the crown may become less secure and break off. If this happens, you may need to have a new crown produced as the underlying tooth will now be a different shape.

If you would like to find out more about dental crowns, or any other treatment that we offer at our Greenwich practice, we are always happy to explain this to our patients. If you would like to make an appointment with us, you can do so by calling the reception team at the Confidental Clinic on 020 8858 1422.

Dr Lynn Hutchinson – GDC 210410