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Chad D Burgess DDS PC

Gentle Family Dentistry

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What is a Cavity? > Radiographs > Periodontal Disease > Implant > Crown or Bridge > Removable Partial Denture > Root Canal >  
What Is A Crown?
A crown is commonly referred to as a "cap." A crown covers the entire tooth. They can be gold or porcelain (tooth colored). There are several reasons why you may need or want a crown. The most common reason is for a tooth that has had root canal treatment. The purpose of the crown for a root canal treated tooth is that after root canal treatment, the tooth becomes brittle. The forces we put on our teeth when we eat and do other things can cause this brittle tooth to fracture, possibly leaving you with no tooth left to work with. The crown covers all surfaces of the tooth and therefore distributes the forces elsewhere and keeps the tooth from fracturing. This is why most dentists inform you that if a tooth needs a root canal, it will also need a crown after the root canal is done.
A second reason for a crown is when a tooth has a really large filling in it. Large fillings do much the same as a root canal, in the sense that they weaken the tooth structure that remains. We generate so much force on our teeth that when a large filling is placed in a tooth, there is a higher chance of that tooth fracturing. Sometimes it is not a problem and a crown can be placed after the tooth has fractured, but many times, that fracture can make it impossible to save the tooth. There is no way to predict where the fracture will occur and this is the reason why it is highly recommended to have a crown placed before the tooth fractures. It prevents you from having to face loosing the tooth and then trying to figure out how to replace the space where that tooth used to be.
A third reason for a crown falls into the esthetic category. Depending on your desires, crowns may be beneficial to give you that whiter, straighter smile that you have desired. Crowns are one way to achieve this and can be beneficial in certain cases. Other ways to achieve a whiter smile is bleaching or veneers. Your dentist can help you make the best decision on which route will be best for you to achieve your desired outcome.
How Does A Crown Work?
Now that I know what a crown is and when I need one, what is actually done to the tooth to make a crown work? Much like a filling, the dentist removes tooth structure, but in this case, it is the outer portion of the tooth, all the way around. This leaves the inner portion of the tooth that the crown can go over the top of and be attached to. Generally this takes at least two appointments because the lab must have time to make the crown. The first appointment is used to get the tooth ready for the crown and take an impression that can be sent to the lab. The dentist makes a "temporary" crown to keep the tooth from being too sensitive. At the second appointment, the crown is back from the lab. The dentist takes off the temporary crown and cements on the final crown.
What Is A Bridge?
A Bridge is much the same as a crown except that it is used to replace a tooth that is missing. So the teeth on each side of the missing tooth get a crown placed on them and are fused to hold a "fake" tooth in the space where a tooth used to be. In the simplest of cases, a bridge consists of 2 teeth getting crowns, and they hold between them a "fake" tooth. If done properly, it is difficult to recognize that the three crowns are stuck together and it looks like you have three normal teeth.