What is a Dental Crown?
A dental crown is a type of dental restoration that can repair a broken or failing tooth. It is placed over an existing tooth that has been compromised and can’t be fixed with a filling. Dental crowns are also known outside of the dental community as caps—the two terms describe the same thing, because a dental crown looks like a cap that goes over the natural tooth.
Dental crowns are designed to be able to do the work that a natural tooth does and are intended to improve the overall condition in your mouth so that you can have a permanent solution to a failing tooth. Crowns can also enhance the strength of your teeth while making them look better aesthetically. Many patients seek out our dentists at Academy Dental Care in Albuquerque to inquire about how they can have teeth that are fully functional so that speaking, chewing, and biting can happen normally without worrying about the integrity of the teeth.
What Dental Issues Can a Crown Help Me Solve?
There are several typical dental conditions that can be solved with a dental crown. Crowns can help to:
- Repair broken or cracked teeth
- Fill gaps and spaces between teeth
- Whiten severely stained or discolored teeth
- Protect weak teeth from fracturing
- Repair decayed teeth
- Cover damaged teeth
- Restore misshapen teeth
- Provide cosmetic enhancement
- Protect teeth with large fillings
Strategically placed crowns can also positively affect the alignment of your jaw and bite. They can help to prevent other teeth from shifting and allow for a better share of the work among all the teeth when biting and chewing.
The presence of a dental crown can also support surrounding teeth and protect them from damage. Often times, our dentists encounter a filling that has been weakened from expanding and contracting over a long period of time that has caused it to separate it from the tooth. This situation can be susceptible to decay and can create more problems for the tooth – a crown is a great solution to common issues such as this.
If you’re suffering with pain resulting from a damaged or fractured tooth, all you want is to have the proper use of your teeth. When a dental crown is determined to be necessary, the position of the tooth, the bite, and aesthetics have to be considered when choosing the right type of dental crown for your needs. The most popular type of dental crowns currently are Zirconia and Emax Press crowns. They are metal-free caps that have beautiful aesthetics and longevity.
How Do I Know if I Need a Crown?
There are generally 2 ways that patients will know that they need a crown—either they have pain or one of our dentists lets you know that your tooth’s condition warrants a crown. Patients ask us to evaluate their teeth once they start to hurt because there is break or fracture which can hurt the tooth, or if a root canal is needed due to the tooth breaking down.
Old gold, silver, or bonded fillings can break down over a period time. Think of a filling as a seal for a tooth, and that seal prevents bacteria and food from finding its way inside and damaging the tooth. The larger the filling, the less tooth structure you have and the larger the area that can break down. When a filling fails, it can lead to the filling becoming loose, the tooth breaking, or contaminates getting under the filling. When the tooth breaks or fractures, you might feel pain because the tooth is flexing where it is broken when you bite.
The other way that you might feel pain is if you need a root canal. At this point, decay has compromised the tooth in certain areas near the nerve of the tooth and is causing pain. It’s really important to get either of these conditions addressed as soon as possible because fixing the tooth early can prevent the condition from becoming more complicated and possibly needing to have the tooth removed.
The best way to prevent small issues from becoming large issues is to have regular checkups so your doctor can be preventative with their treatment. At Academy Dental Care, it is our philosophy to keep as much of your natural teeth as possible. Sometimes the dental situation can reach the point where having a crown is the last line of treatment before needing to remove a tooth and having to install implants, bridges, or partials to fix the situation.
Does It Matter Who Does My Crown?
Yes! A dental crown is a procedure that is performed by a licensed dentist, however, the quality and length of time that your crown will last depends on several factors. One of the most important things that the dentists do at Academy Dental Care to restore your tooth is to reserve yours and the doctor’s time at the office. We pride ourselves in creating a schedule where we have the time required to perform a high-quality prep of your tooth. Second, both our dentists have vast experience and have applied thousands of crowns in the past, so you know that you have a clinical expert working on your custom crown. Third, our dental assistants also have over 45 years of combined experience with assisting our doctors with crown procedures.
Our doctors take the time ensure that they remove any old filling material that may be present below the crown done years ago. Dr. Gonzales, Dr. Gallagher, Dr. Krohnfeldt, and Dr. Wall practice the philosophy that it’s important to keep as much of the natural tooth structure as possible because they feel that being conservative in their prep is the best thing for their patients. In order to accomplish this, the doctor needs to take their time and not be rushed to get your crown done. Our patients love that our office culture revolves around reserving enough time so that our patients are not rushed, and the doctors can perform high-quality dentistry. In turn, this also benefits our patients because we respect their time and value the commitment that our patients make to come into our office.
What makes Academy Dental Care unique is that our dental assistants are trained to make your experience in the chair as comfortable as possible. In this day and age, the health community is not known for making the emotional experience great for patients, which is why we’ve made it our mission to deliver the best patient experience in helping our patients with their dental goals by offering compassionate, expert care.
What is the Process for Getting a Crown?
When a patient requires a crown, it will take two visits. The first appointment will include taking impressions (a mold of your natural teeth) and a dentist preparing your natural teeth for the new crown. Our dentists will remove any decay and old filling material such as gold or silver, and then custom shape your tooth in the most conservative way possible. You will receive a temporary crown at this visit. The technology for temporary crowns has changed significantly over the past 10 years. Our team can prepare a temporary crown that is both functional and cosmetic in nature. Often times the patient can’t tell the difference between the color and appearance of the temporary crown and their natural teeth.
The second visit is required to fit the final crown that will be a permanent solution for your dental condition. The dentists at Academy Dental Care in Albuquerque partner with two of the most well-regarded labs in the country that have the highest standards in the dental community regarding quality and state-of-the-art equipment to make sure that your crown is as close to a natural tooth as possible. Our patients have the comfort of knowing that with us, they have their own dental ceramic specialist using the best technology available to make their crown. The best compliment that a patient can receive is when their crown is so like their other natural teeth that an x-ray is required to tell which are the natural teeth and which are the restored teeth with crowns.
Do I Need a Crown if I Need a Root Canal?
If you need a root canal or had a root canal in the past, it is recommended to restore the tooth with a crown. After a root canal is performed and the nerve, which is the blood source to the tooth, is no longer present, the tooth becomes brittle and can be a liability in your mouth. A tooth that has a root canal that does not have a crown can break, fracture, or chip during chewing. The danger of not performing a crown after a root canal procedure is that the natural tooth can break or fracture near or below the gum line, which will require the removal of the tooth and needing another restoration that is more complex than a crown.
Has Technology Changed with Crowns in the Last 10 Years?
In the past, crowns were made of several different materials including metal (gold) and porcelain fused to metal which after a few years acquires an unsightly dark grey line at the gum line. Today, we have materials that cosmetically look like natural teeth made from porcelain that are functionally superior to the old materials and look exactly like a natural tooth.
Natural teeth are translucent and can transmit up to 70% of light. One of the reasons why the older dental crowns are so noticeable is because they are a different shade, not translucent, or a different material that doesn’t even try to look like natural teeth. At Academy Dental Care, our dentists partner with first-class dental ceramists and world-class dental laboratories to ensure you get the best results.
There are significant benefits to using porcelain crowns. Porcelain crowns are translucent—just like your natural teeth. It’s hard to tell which is the tooth that had the crown because of our color matching techniques, and the result that patients want is when the new crown can blend in perfectly with your smile.
Porcelain crowns are designed to fit over your natural tooth. In the case where a filling can’t restore the tooth, a crown can be bonded to your tooth returning the strength and function.
Are There Different Types of Crowns for Front Teeth vs Back Teeth?
Front teeth are different than back teeth. Emax crowns are great for front teeth because they are more translucent and are the best cosmetic option for teeth that are on display. If you are a bruxer (grind your teeth), another option for crown material may be suggested.
Back teeth are more difficult to see, so Zirconia crowns can give a different level of structure to the teeth that you use for more of the heavy chewing.
Is There Any Special Maintenance Required for Dental Crowns?
One of the advantages of a tooth that has been restored with a crown is that you can treat it like your natural teeth! You can chew a steak, eat an apple, enjoy popcorn, etc., and you can brush and floss normally. There have been many advances in dental crown technology that make this restoration easy and stress free.
What Happens if an Old Crown Comes Off?
If your crown comes off, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible. You can use temporary cement to get you by until you see one of our dentists. At Academy Dental Care, we will examine the natural tooth to see if there is something functional that loosened the crown. A main reason to see one of our dentists is because a loose crown doesn’t provide a sterile environment between the crown and the natural tooth. Bacteria can form between spaces and can further the decay that could be present. Our dentists can get this resolved for you quickly, so you can be proactive and prevent tooth pain or a greater expense in the future with your dental health. It is important to realize that a crown coming off is a dental emergency and we can fit you in right away.
What Are the Benefits to Receiving a Dental Crown at Academy Dental Care?
- Our porcelain crowns are identical in appearance to your natural teeth, and we accomplish this with our master shading process. We also make sure you approve of the color before we permanently cement.
- Our porcelain crowns are made by two of the most reputable labs in the United States. What you receive is a translucent crown that cosmetically gives you a permanent solution to your broken, fractured, or chipped tooth.
- Our porcelain crowns are custom made to fit your natural tooth. The crown is cemented to your tooth to return the original look, function, and strength to your smile.
- Our porcelain crowns strengthen damaged teeth while giving you a new surface to match discolored or misshapen teeth.
Call us today at (505) 828-2020 for a free consultation, appointment, or for more information about our porcelain crowns!