Dental Care

A Dental Crown is a True Piece of Art


A dental crown is an artificial cap made for a tooth by your dentist when your own tooth no longer can do its job on its own. When your own tooth has had too many fillings and it cannot withstand additional repair, it needs to be capped with a crown.

Sometimes dental crowns are installed if there are multiple fillings in a tooth. A crown can keep a tooth from crumbling under use. And it also serves to restructure the tooth when decay is so extensive that the only other option is extraction.

In fact, when a root canal is performed to deaden the nerve of a tooth, a crown protects the top of the tooth when the root canal is completed.

Metals, ceramics, and plastics are all used to make crowns. Common materials include gold or platinum, and some crowns are made from PFM-porcelain fused to metal. Yet others are a combination of porcelain, ceramic materials, or acrylic resins.

The material used depends on the location and the purpose of the tooth. Gold and metal amalgams are used for crowns on back teeth. People talk about gold teeth or gold crowns, but gold alone is never used. To create sturdy dental crowns manufacturers choose from the noble metals, so-called because they are very resistant to the deterioration that affects most metals in wet places.

The noble metals include silver, palladium, platinum, gold, ruthenium, rhodium, osmium, and iridium.

A gold crown is actually an alloy of gold plus other noble metals. They supply the strength and sturdiness required for serious chewing, and the color of the metal is hidden in the back of the mouth.

When someone has a front tooth capped, the dental crown is most likely made from acrylic resin and porcelain. These crowns resist fractures and shrinkage. Dental tissue reacts well to ceramic crowns, but ceramic is not as strong. Sometimes ceramic blends are used to coat metal crowns.


There are four components to a dental crown:

First, there are two plasters used for two types of mold. Then the crown itself is made from either metal alloy, ceramic or porcelain, or plastic. Third, adhesive cement fastens it in place permanently. Last, the crown is coated after its installation to seal it and to improve its appearance.

The entire process begins with an impression taken of the tooth. It has to be indexed with impression material, which is generally a mixture of gypsum and plaster. Often the dentist removes a slight amount of the tooth in order to determine the correct index for the crown.

The dentist removes all decay with a drill or laser. Sometimes he adds a little height to the tooth with common filling material so that there will be more surface contact between the tooth and the crown. Most or all of the enamel is removed so that the crown can cover the tooth.

The margins of the tooth -where the dental crown and tooth come together- must be placed on healthy structure all the way around the tooth. If there is a gap of good structure then the crown must be adjusted.

There are two molds made. One is a soft plaster that covers the tooth and then is removed, and this creates an impression of the tooth-actually, a negative model.

A second, stronger plaster is used inside of this hollow tooth which creates a faithful replica of the tooth. The dentist retains the second model for reference purposes. He then supplies the first model to the dental lab technician in the form of a prescription that specifies materials to be used, shaping, tooth coloration, and so forth.

The dental tech proceeds to create the tooth according to the dentist's specifications. The model is filled with the prescribed materials, done at a high temperature to achieve good strength. For some materials, such as acrylic, it might take six to eight hours to cure it properly. With ceramic materials, the services of a ceramicist might be retained.

As the dental tech makes the crown, he pays special attention to its proper fit and aesthetic aspects.


Taking Good Care of a Temporary Crown

While the crown is being completed, the patient leaves the dentist's office with a temporary crown. The temporary protects the prepared tooth, shaved and cleaned of decay.

Most patients feel uncomfortable with a temporary. It's somewhat fragile, and they must be careful of what and how they eat. The patient must avoid toffees, gum, and tough meats or steaks.

He has to brush and floss very carefully around the temporary dental crown, and it's necessary to use an antibacterial, alcohol-free rinse one or two times per day.

Eating curry can stain it yellow, and smoking also affects its color. The temporary crown also feels a bit rough because it hasn't been made with as much care as the final dental crown. It's also usually sensitive to heat and cold.


The Final Fitting

When the crown is completed, the patient returns to the dentist for a final fitting. If it looks good cosmetically and feels comfortable during chewing or biting tests, then it's fastened permanently into place with a dental cement agent.

Your completed dental crown is expensive: One crown generally costs from $600 to $3,000 per tooth. Part of this cost will be covered by the patient's dental insurance.

You can expect a dental crown to last from ten to thirty years; the better care you take of it, the longer it will last.



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