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Crowns are an ideal way to rebuild teeth, which have been broken, or have been weakened by decay or a very large filling.  The crown fits right over the remaining part of the tooth, making it strong and giving it the shape and contour of a natural tooth.

Crowns are sometimes known as ‘caps’.  An ‘Anterior Crown’ is a crown fitted to one of the front eight teeth.

Why would I need a crown?

There are a number of reasons.  For instance:

  • the tooth may have been weakened by a very large filling
  • you may have discoloured fillings and would like to improve the appearance of the tooth
  • you may have had a root filling which will need a crown to protect it
  • you may have had an accident and damaged the tooth
  • it may help to hold a bridge or denture firmly in place.

What are crowns made of?

Crowns are made from a variety of materials and new materials are being introduced all the time.

Porcelain bonded to precious metal: the most common type of material used for crowns. It features a layer of porcelain applied to a precious metal base.

Full Porcelain: these crowns are not as strong as bonded crowns but they can look very natural and are most often used for front teeth.

Precious metal (gold and palladium): these crowns are very strong and hard-wearing, but are not usually used at the front of the mouth, where they are highly visible.

How is a tooth prepared for a crown?

The dentist will prepare the tooth by making it the ideal shape for the crown.  This will mean removing most of the outer surface, and leaving a strong inner ‘core’.  The amount of the tooth removed will be the same thickness as the crown to be fitted.

Once the tooth is shaped, the dentist will take an impression of the prepared tooth, one of the opposite jaw and possibly another to record how you bite together.  The impressions will be given to the technician, along with any other information they need to make the crown.

Who makes the crown?

The impressions and information about the shade of your teeth will be given to a skilled dental technician.  They will produce models of your mouth and use these to create a crown that fits perfectly.

Will the crown be noticeable?

No.  The crown will be made to match your other teeth exactly.  The shade of the neighbouring teeth will be recorded, to make sure the colour looks natural and matches the surrounding teeth.  A temporary crown, usually made in plastic, will be fitted at the end of the first appointment to last until the permanent one is ready.  These temporary crowns may be more noticeable, but they are only in place for about two weeks.

How long does the treatment take?

You will need to have at least two appointments. The first for the preparation, impression and shade taking, and the fitting of the temporary crown, and the second, 1 -2 weeks later, to have the permanent crown fitted.

Does it hurt to have a tooth prepared for a crown?

No.  A local anaesthetic is used and the preparation should feel no different to having a filling.  If the tooth does not have a nerve, and a post crown is being prepared, then local anaesthetic may not be needed.

Are post crowns different?

Post crowns may be used when the tooth has been root filled.  The weakened crown of the tooth is drilled off at the level of the gum.  The dentist makes a double-ended  ‘post’ to fit into the root canal. This can either be prefabricated stainless steel or custom-made from gold.  One end of the post is cemented into the root canal, and the other end holds the crown firmly in place.

Are there any alternatives to post crowns for root-filled teeth?

If a root-filled tooth is not completely broken down, it may be possible to build it up again using filling material.

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