Gallery - Restorations
Similar to a house that is built on a foundation of
sand, a tooth that is extensively restored with fillings
can crumble and wash away. This is why many dentists
suggest placing a crown or "cap" on teeth
that have very large fillings.
A crown is indicated when there is little tooth structure
left or the remaining tooth is weakened, and it is
likely that a tooth will fracture during normal chewing.
If a tooth fractures, the only option may be to pull
the tooth or have a root canal.
Crowns can also be fabricated to make the front teeth
look more attractive or to achieve better chewing
function in an individual with worn-down teeth.
Crowns may be fabricated out of various materials.
Certain materials work better in different situations.
However, the patient usually has the choice of gold,
resin, porcelain or a mixture of the materials.
A dentist usually will need about two or three appointments
before the patient can leave the office with the brand-new
The first appointment is usually to examine the tooth
and determine the type of crown to be placed.
After that, the dentist will actually drill around
the tooth so the crown will fit perfectly over the
remaining tooth structure. Once the dentist is satisfied
with the drilling part, he or she will take an impression
with a material that is about the same consistency
as mashed potatoes. The dental lab will use this impression
of the tooth to help make the final crown.
The patient may have to wait several weeks before
the finished crown returns from the lab. During this
time the patient will have a temporary crown glued
on. This crown is weaker than the lab-fabricated one
and should not stay on for more than a few months.
Finally, after the dental lab has fabricated the
final crown, the dentist will use a very strong cement
to glue the crown to the tooth.
Once the final crown is cemented on, the tooth or
teeth have been given the chance to resist fracture
for a very long time. However, the tooth still may
break down if any decay gets under the crown or there
is enough force during biting to dislodge or crack
Children may actually get a different type of crown
that does not have to be made in the lab. These teeth
do not fit the same way as the adult crowns. This
is because the crown will go on the baby teeth that
will fall out in a few years. It is important to put
crowns on baby teeth with large cavities because the
teeth could break, which could cause pain or movement.
The latter could require the patient to have braces
later in life.
Crowns are an important part of
patient care in dentistry. Many patients avoid having
crowns and wait until a tooth breaks to ask for one.
This usually makes treatment more difficult and less
successful. If your dentist suggests a crown should
be placed, it would be a good idea to follow his or
her advice so you may avoid a broken tooth.