A dental crown restores a weak or cracked tooth to its original shape and size and makes your tooth stronger. Crowns are also used to cover a tooth that is discolored or misshapen. Your 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 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 crown?

A dental crown will restore a tooth's shape, size, and strength, and it improves tooth appearance.

Your dentist may recommend a crown to:

  • Protect a weak tooth from breaking
  • Restore a broken tooth
  • Help strengthen a tooth with a large filling or one that hasn't enough tooth left to hold a filling
  • Hold a dental bridge in place
  • Cover a tooth that is discolored or misshapen
  • Cover a dental implant

A crown may be recommended for a child's baby tooth to:

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

If your dentist recommends a crown, the reason is usually to correct one of the above conditions.

Advantages of a dental crown

A dental crown will:

  • Allow you to continue to use 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.

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. Your dentist may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever to alleviate any soreness or discomfort.

How long does it take to get a dental crown?

Getting a crown usually requires two visits to the dentist. During the first appointment, the dentist will remove decay, reshape, and rebuild the tooth to allow for a well-fitting crown, make an impression, and may provide a temporary crown. At the second appointment, the temporary crown (if required) is removed and the permanent crown will be placed over your tooth and secured in place with a dental adhesive.

Crowns on a child's baby tooth are completed in one appointment.



During the first visit:

The dentist will examine your tooth. The dentist 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, he may suggest root canal treatment.

Five steps to preparing a tooth for a crown

  1. The dentist will numb the tooth and the surrounding gum tissue with a local anesthetic.
  2. Next, the tooth is reshaped along the chewing surface and the sides to accommodate the crown. If a large area of your tooth is missing, the dentist may apply a filling material to help the tooth support the crown.
  3. After reshaping, the dentist will make an impression of the reshaped tooth using a dental paste. This 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.
  4. The impressions are sent to a dental lab where the permanent crown is made - 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.
  5. Your dentist may also make a temporary crown to cover and protect the prepared tooth. Temporary crowns are held in place with temporary cement.

During the second visit:

  • The dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the gum tissue.
  • He will remove the temporary crown and insert the permanent crown, and check for a correct fit.
  • When you and the dentist are satisfied with how the crown feels, the crown is cemented in place.

If you have additional questions about dental crowns, talk with your dentist.