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A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth. The cap restores the tooth’s shape and size, strength, and appearance. The crowns, when cemented into place, cover the visible portion of a tooth.

When would a dental crown be needed?

A dental crown may be needed to:

1. protect a weak tooth (for example, from decay) from breaking or to hold together parts of a cracked tooth
2. restore a broken tooth or a severely worn down tooth
3. cover and support a tooth with a large filling and not much tooth remaining
4. hold a dental bridge in place
5. cover misshaped or severely discolored teeth
6. cover a dental implant
7. cover a tooth treated with a root canal

​What steps are involved in preparing a tooth for a crown?

Two visits to the dentist are usually needed.

At the first visit, the tooth to receive the crown is examined and prepared. X-rays are taken of the tooth and bone around it. If decay is found or there is a risk of infection or injury to the tooth’s pulp, a root canal treatment may need to be done first. (Pulp is the soft tissue inside your teeth containing blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.)

To make room for the crown, the tooth to receive it is filed down across the top and sides. The amount of tooth filed away depends on the type of crown selected. All-metal crowns are thinner and don’t need as much tooth structure removed compared with all-porcelain or porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. If too much tooth is missing, due to damage or decay, a filling material is used to “build up” enough tooth structure for the crown to cover.

After reshaping the tooth, a paste or putty is used to make a copy (also called impression) of the tooth that will be receiving the crown. Impressions of the teeth above and below the tooth to receive the dental crown are also made. This is done to make sure that the crown will not affect your bite.

The impressions are sent to a dental laboratory. The laboratory makes the crowns and usually returns them to the dentist’s office in 2 to 3 weeks. At Eagle Dental, 2 weeks of turnaround time is expected. During this first office visit your dentist will make a temporary crown to cover and protect the prepared tooth while the permanent crown is being made.

At the second visit, the permanent crown is placed. First, the temporary crown is removed and the fit and color of the permanent crown is checked. If everything is okay, a local anesthetic (“numbing” drug) is sometimes used to numb the tooth and the new crown is permanently cemented in place.

​How long do dental crowns last?

On average, dental crowns last between 5 and 15 years. The life span of a crown depends on the amount of “wear and tear” the crown is exposed to, how well good oral hygiene practices are followed, and your personal mouth-related habits (you should avoid such habits as grinding or clenching your teeth, chewing ice, biting your fingernails and using your teeth to open packaging).

Does a crowned tooth require any special care?

A crowned tooth does not need any special care. However, the underlying tooth still needs to be protected from decay or gum disease. Therefore, continue to follow good oral hygiene practices, including brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once a day -- especially around the crown area where the gum meets the tooth. Also avoid biting on hard surfaces with porcelain crowns (for example, chewing ice and popcorn hulls) to prevent cracking the porcelain.

How much do crowns cost?

Costs vary depending on where you live and the type of crown chosen (for example, porcelain crowns are typically more expensive than gold crowns, which are typically more expensive than porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns). Generally, crowns can range in cost from $800 to $1,500 or more per crown. The cost of crowns is not usually fully covered by insurance. To be certain, call Eagle Dental and Dr. Shirazi today!