Crowns are full-coverage restorations that are used to cover a tooth that is too damaged to be corrected with a traditional filling.
Crowns are synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain, placed on the top of a tooth.
Crowns are typically used to restore a tooth's function and appearance following a restorative procedure such as a root canal. Another indication for a crown is when the decay in a tooth has become so advanced that a large portions of the tooth must be removed.
Crowns are also used to attach bridges, cover implants or prevent a cracked tooth from becoming worse. Crowns also serve an aesthetic purpose and are used when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance.
A tooth must usually be reduced in size to accommodate a crown. An impression is made of the prepared tooth and sent to a special lab which manufactures a custom-made crown. In some cases, a temporary crown is placed until the permanent crown is ready. When the permanent crown returns from the lab, it is cemented in place.
Crowns are sometimes confused with veneers, but they are quite different. Veneers are typically applied only to relatively small areas.
With proper care, a good quality crown could last up to eight years or longer. It is very important to floss in the area of the crown to avoid excess plaque or collection of debris around the restoration. Certain behaviors such as jaw clenching or bruxism (teeth grinding) significantly shorten the life of a crown. Moreover, eating brittle foods, ice or hard candy can compromise the adhesion of the crown, or even damage the crown.
Bridges are natural-looking dental appliances that can replace a section of missing teeth. They are bonded to existing teeth or implants. Because they are custom-made, bridges are barely noticeable and can restore the natural contour of teeth as well as the proper bite relationship between upper and lower teeth.