Dental Crowns: The process

Dental Crowns: The process

Dental crowns are fillings for the front tip of the tooth and have various purposes; and it isn’t just a cosmetic prop to enhance your smile. Yes, many people use it to fix chipped, broken teeth (particularly front and centre) but there are many health reasons to have your teeth set and crowned.

A dental crown covers an existing tooth, improving the way a decayed or broken tooth looks and feels. Broken teeth are usually weak and sensitive; the crown, which is made from various materials, can make the tooth stronger and more durable and prevent any further damage.

Any tooth can be crowned, even molars. Crowns are made from metal, porcelain, ceramic, zirconia and composite resin (which is what is used in modern-day fillings). Some crowns are made from a combination of materials.

Why would I need a crown?

Besides fixing your smile – which can be great to regain confidence – a crown can help save a decaying tooth. Dental crowns can cover broken teeth or even to mask decayed teeth, says Health Direct; this is helpful when too much of the original tooth is missing. If the original tooth is too small, it may not be strong enough to hold a filling. They are also used to protect weak teeth from breaking and to cover stained or poorly shaped teeth.

Also, if you’re missing a tooth, your dentist may suggest a crown so that he can put in a dental bridge or a tooth implant, says Healthline.

Many dentists will suggest that a patient get a tooth crowned following root canal surgery. The affected tooth is more fragile and needs extra protection.

What happens in a dental crown procedure?

Getting your tooth crowned is a procedure that needs anaesthetic. The procedure is very similar to when you get fillings. It can also get pricey, so having dental insurance can really assist in making the procedure more affordable, especially if you need follow up visits. The price of Dental Crowns starts from around R3 500 and can go as high as R12 000. With a traditional crown, you will have at least two visits.

To start, the dentist will examine the tooth, most likely with an X-ray of the area to determine the full extent of the damage on the tooth. This way he can see what exactly needs to be done before the crown is put in place. Then, the dentist will prepare your tooth by removing a layer of its outer surface; he will then take an impression of the shaved tooth as well. A temporary crown will be put onto the shaved tooth while the x-rays and impressions are sent to the lab that will create your permanent crown. This could take several days or weeks, depending on the backlog at the lab.

The crown will be the same thickness as the thickness of this removed layer, says Health Direct. Costs may depend on whether or not the dentist has to perform more extensive prep work. A crown cannot just go atop a damaged tooth; you may need a root canal or a dental implant beforehand. This will definitely up the price of the whole procedure. Speak to your dentist about the types of crowns that are available. Your dentist will give you options and work with you in choosing the appropriate crown and other procedures for your dental needs. Be open about your budget too, so that you can keep track of the dental costs.

Dental insurance like Affinity Dental may cover all or part of the cost. However, your plan may only cover certain kinds of crowns. Check with your insurance company to get coverage details. 

To make a crown, your dentist takes a mould of your tooth and sends it away to a technician who will prepare the crown. It can often be matched to the colour of your teeth so that it will blend in.

You might be given a temporary crown to tide you over until the permanent crown is made.

When your permanent crown is ready, you’ll go back to the dentist and have it fitted using dental cement or adhesive. Crowns last for years if taken care of correctly, but there are instances in which crowns have broken off. This can be from wear and tear, or poorly fitted crowns. Be sure to get yours done by a trained professional.

When the crown comes in, you’ll return for the second visit, so your dentist can cement the crown to your tooth, says Healthline.

I have a crown, now what?

Now you have to take proper care of your teeth. The tooth beneath your crown may have extra protection, but it can still decay if you don’t brush, rinse and floss regularly.

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