Dental crowns

Our dentists in Oregon, Washington and Massachusetts are trained to prepare a tooth and provide treatment for dental crowns, also known as tooth/teeth crowns or caps. A dental crown restores a weak or cracked tooth to its original shape and size and makes the tooth stronger. Crowns are also used to cover a tooth that is discolored or misshapen. The dentist may recommend a crown to prevent a tooth from breaking, helping to avoid a painful dental emergency, keeping your teeth healthy, and your smile bright.

What is a dental crown?

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped "cap." It replaces a broken tooth structure or areas damaged by dental decay that are too large to be repaired with a filling alone. The dentist cements a crown into place to cover the visible part of the tooth (the area above the gum line).

Why do I need a tooth crown?

A dental crown will restore a tooth's shape, size and strength, and it improves tooth appearance. Additional reasons why a dentist may recommend a crown include:

  • Protecting a weak tooth from breaking
  • Restoring a broken tooth
  • Helping strengthen a tooth with a large filling or one that doesn't have enough tooth left to hold a filling
  • Holding a dental bridge in place
  • Covering a tooth that is discolored or misshapen
  • Covering a dental implant

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Tooth caps for children's baby teeth

There are occasions where the dentist might recommend that a child have caps for baby teeth. The most common reasons for this include:

  • Saving a decayed tooth that cannot support a filling
  • Protecting the teeth of a child that is at high risk for tooth decay

Advantages of a dental crown

There are a wide range of reasons why dental crowns are advantageous to other procedures. For instance, dental crowns:

  • Allow use of a damaged tooth for eating
  • Help relieve pain due to a damaged tooth
  • Restore the appearance of a natural tooth
  • Help prevent the shifting of your other teeth or bite

What are dental crowns made of?

Crowns are made from a variety of materials — stainless steel, metal alloys, resin, porcelain and ceramics. Crowns don't require special care except for proper dental care. Your dentist may recommend that you do not chew ice or hard foods.

What to expect when getting a dental crown at our dental offices?

Getting a tooth crown usually requires two visits to the dentist. During the first visit, the dentist will start by examining your tooth. The dental team may take X-rays to examine the tooth's roots and the surrounding bone. If the tooth is severely decayed or if there's a risk of injury or infection to the tooth pulp, your provider may suggest root canal treatment as a better alternative.

Should the dentist determine that a tooth crown is the optimal treatment, they will perform the following steps:

  • The dentist will numb the tooth and the surrounding gum tissue with a local anesthetic
  • Next, the tooth is reshaped along the chewing surface and the sides to accommodate the crown; if a large area of the tooth is missing, the dentist may apply a filling material to help the tooth support the crown
  • After reshaping, the dentist will make an impression of the reshaped tooth using a dental paste, which will provide an exact model for the crown; an impression will be made above and below the tooth to make sure the crown won't interfere with your ability to bite and chew
  • The impressions are sent to a dental lab where the permanent crown is made, which will take about two to three weeks; if you and your dentist decide on a porcelain crown, the dentist will choose a shade that closely matches the color of your surrounding teeth
  • The dentist may also make a temporary crown to cover and protect the prepared tooth; temporary crowns are held in place with temporary cement

It is important to properly care for your temporary crown between your first and second appointments. During the second office visit, the permanent crown will be placed. Prior to setting the permanent crown, the dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the gum tissue. They will then remove the temporary crown and insert the permanent crown, while also checking for a correct fit. Once you and the dentist are satisfied with how the crown feels, the crown is cemented in place.

For pediatric patients, a crown being set on a baby tooth is usually completed during one appointment.

Is getting a dental crown painful?

Getting a crown is a virtually painless process. Before the procedure, the dentist will numb the tooth and the surrounding gum tissue with a local anesthetic. Your mouth may feel slightly uncomfortable for a few days after the procedure. The dentist may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever to alleviate any soreness or discomfort.