What are dental crowns and why are they necessary?
Dental crowns are caps that completely cover all visible areas of a tooth all the way to the gum line. These coverings—which can be made of porcelain, metal, or in some cases, both—are designed to add strength to the tooth as well as improve its overall appearance. Crowns may be used to protect a weak tooth from breaking, or hold together a tooth that has already cracked. Crowns can be solutions for strengthening teeth that do not have much of the healthy tooth structure left after receiving large fillings. Dentists can use crowns to hold dental bridges in place or cover dental implants. They are excellent cosmetic choices for patients with severely discolored or misshapen teeth. Wear and tear that comes from grinding your teeth, an improper bite, or age can also make you a candidate for a dental crown.

What is involved?
Crown placement is generally done over a series of two visits. At the first visit, your dentist will examine and prepare the tooth, and likely place a temporary crown that will remain until a dental laboratory creates a permanent crown. This process takes approximately two to three weeks. In order to prepare a tooth for a temporary crown, the dentist will numb the area and file down the chewing surface and sides of the tooth to make room for the crown. In some instances, the dentist might need to use a filling material to build up the tooth structure. This can happen if a large area of the tooth is missing due to decay or other damage. After reshaping the tooth, the dentist will make an impression with putty or impression paste. This impression will be sent to a dental laboratory to manufacture the permanent crown. In the interim, you will receive a temporary crown made of either acrylic or stainless steel, held in place with temporary cement. You will receive your permanent crown on the second visit. The dentist will remove the temporary crown, and ensure that the fit and color of the new permanent crown is acceptable. You will receive a local anesthetic once again to numb the tooth, and the new crown will be permanently cemented in place.

What should I know before getting a crown?
Depending on the material it is made from and amount of wear and tear it is exposed to, a dental crown can last between five and fifteen years. Crowns are usually made from ceramic, metal, resin, or porcelain that is fused to metal. Your dentist will discuss with you what type of crown is best for your individual needs.

Metal Crowns
Metal crowns can be made with gold alloys or another base metal such as nickel or chromium. Less of the original tooth structure has to be removed with metal crowns, and they are much stronger and last longer than other crown types. The main disadvantage of metal crowns is the unnatural metallic color. This option is often a good choice for molars that are less visible.

Porcelain and Resin Crowns
These crown types can be color-matched to the adjacent teeth, making them a cosmetically appealing option, particularly for front teeth. They are also suitable for patients with metal allergies. However, they are not as strong as other crown types, making them more prone to cracks or chips, and they wear down the opposing teeth more quickly than metal crowns. The bonding process also requires more of the original tooth structure to be removed.

Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Crowns
Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are an excellent choice for an all-natural appearance. Like all-porcelain crowns, they can be color-matched to the adjacent teeth. However, they do have a metal substructure, which can make the translucency of natural teeth difficult to replicate. This metal substructure can also cause a darker line to be visible at the gum line when it begins to recede with age. These crowns are suitable for both front and rear teeth.