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Crowns on teeth

In cases where a tooth has been badly damaged, or is cracking or at risk to break, or is in an unacceptable position, the answer is often a “full coverage restoration”, or crown.

What exactly is a crown?
A crown replaces the outer millimetre or so of a tooth in all dimensions.  It is custom-made in a laboratory, and bonded or cemented to the tooth.

What material is a crown made of?

  • Crowns can be grouped into:
  • all-metal, such as a full gold crown
  • porcelain fused to metal
  • all porcelain/ceramic

Every one of these materials has their place. Factors include the size and position of the tooth to be crowned, plus the bite force in the area. Your dentist will discuss your options with you.

What is the procedure?
The first visit is not unlike a longer filling appointment. The tooth is smoothed down and a very accurate model of the area is taken with a rubber-like material, or digitally with the intra-oral optical scanner. A temporary plastic cover is made to protect the smoothed tooth for the week or two while the laboratory constructs the crown. When you return, the temporary cover is removed and the crown is tried in. After any minor adjustments are made, it is then cemented or bonded onto the tooth.

What is the difference between a cemented and a bonded crown?
Cement is essentially a glue that fills the microscopic space between the crown and the tooth. With some situations or crown materials, we will treat the crown and the tooth with chemicals and then chemically bond the crown to the tooth structure. The dentist can advise you if this is necessary—if so, your second visit will be slightly longer.

What are inlays and onlays?
Sometimes a large amount of a tooth’s biting surface is damaged, but other parts of it are healthy and aesthetic. For a tooth that is too damaged to restore with a filling, but doesn’t need a full coverage crown, a dentist will often use an inlay. Essentially the damaged area of the tooth is removed, and a custom made restoration is bonded in its place. Note that we often use the term “onlay” to refer to an inlay that has to cover one or more of the tooth cusps, but the procedure is the same.

Like any restorative procedures, crowns, inlays or onlays are undertaken after planning and consultation. Talk to one of our dentists today about restoring your oral health with custom crowns.