Our teeth are with us through everything; from losing our baby teeth and being visited by the tooth fairy in our youth, to our first nervous date at a fancy restaurant, to every smile we give to our friends and family. There’s no surprise, then, that they can wear down over time. Cavities and impact can damage our teeth, which can create both social discomfort and significant health problems. The best way to help your teeth is of course prevention; regular brushing, flossing and visits to your dentist will significantly reduce the risk of mouth and tooth problems. Should prevention not be enough, and decay in your teeth is substantial enough to have caused damage, a crown may be needed.
Crowns, also known as caps, are most frequently used to cover damaged and decayed teeth, though they can also be used for aesthetic purposes; crowns look and work much like natural teeth do. Your dentist might do the crown themselves, but in especially complex cases, they may refer you to a prosthodontist.
Crowns are applied in a five-step process in order to ensure the most success and comfort for the patient. First, your dentist gives you a local anesthetic to help with any discomfort. The tooth that is to be crowned is filed down to make room the crown, then an impression of the affected tooth and surrounding teeth is taken so a custom-fit crown can be made. A temporary crown is then applied until the final crown is ready. The final step is applying the custom-made crown, after which your dentist will evaluate the shape, colour, fit and bite with you to ensure you are satisfied before it is permanently affixed.
Crowns can be made out of a wide variety of material; metal crowns are particularly durable and long lasting, but they are colored quite differently than natural teeth, and so may stand out, especially when applied on front teeth. Composite crowns are more natural looking, but they are prone to wear from brushing and chewing. Porcelain crowns look the most natural, but they are prone to chipping, and so are usually placed on the front teeth, where their natural look serves best and chipping is least likely. Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns combine the durability of metal crowns with the look of porcelain; the metal may begin to show over time if your gums recede, though.
All crowns come with different advantages and different price points; your dentist will be more than happy to go over the plethora of options with you. No matter which crown you go with, prevention and maintenance remain key; floss and brush regularly, and don’t open or cut things with your teeth. Crowns usually last up to 10 years; they aren’t as durable as your natural teeth, so making sure they stay clean is even more important.
Markham Dental Centre is run by the father-and-son team of Drs. Leon and Zach Stein. Talking to your dentist is essential if you feel any pain or discomfort in your mouth; it’s also important to see your dentist regularly to avoid needing a dental crown.