As explained in the previous article, a crown is a covering (or ‘cap’) that is placed over a tooth. This is a very common treatment in dentistry today. They are placed in order to improve the strength and/or appearance of the teeth. They can also be used to replace missing teeth when placed on an implant.
A permanent crown procedure generally takes a few visits with your dentist (depending on the state of the tooth in the first place, and the technology being used to create the cap).
The following list briefly outlines the stages involved in the procedure.
1. Assessment and ‘Foundation’ Work
- An assessment is undertaken, to ensure that a crown is needed, and whether any other work (such as root canal) is necessary. An X-ray is usually needed as part of the assessment. If a root canal is needed, this will be done before any work on the cap is undertaken.
- If the tooth is very weak and/or has been root treated, it may first require a new foundation or ‘core’ before the crown can be made. This may include the use of a post down the root canal, to help hold the cap in place. This foundation work is often done on a separate visit/s before the tooth crown procedure.
2. Preparing the Tooth
- Once it has been decided that a crown is needed and which material is to be used, an appointment is needed to prepare the tooth.
- Local anesthetic is used to first numb the area. While the anesthetic is taking effect, your dentist may take some initial molds of your teeth. The shade of the restoration may also be chosen here, to match in with the surrounding teeth.
- Once the tooth is numb, it is filed down to the required size in order to make the space for the cap.
- Once it is shaped properly, a mold (‘impression’) of the tooth is then made. This mold is taken using a rubber putty material, and is sent to the dental laboratory where the prosthesis is made.
- It can take around two weeks for the cap to be made. In the interim, your dentist will fit a temporary crown which will protect the tooth and keep it in the correct position. The temporary is fitted at the end of the first visit. A “temp”is not as strong as the final, permanent crown will be, so go easy on it! Read this advice if you lose a temp. Avoid hard and chewy foods.
“How long does a dental crown procedure take?” It can take up to 45 minutes per unit, the technique requires quite a lot of skill from the dentist.
You may experience some sensitivity after this preparation visit. This usually only lasts a few days. If you develop more severe pain, or have any concerns, do contact your dentist.
3. Fitting the Crown
- Local anesthetic is first applied, if necessary.
- The temporary crown is then removed, and the region cleaned if needed.
- The newly made cap is cemented into place, once you and your dentist are both happy with how it looks and fits. Your dentist may need to make a few final adjustments, for example to the bite. S/he will show you how to look after the crown, to help ensure that it stays in for many years to come!
Here is a quick video that demonstrates the above process.
Many dentists are now investing in a new machine which makes the crown on the same day as the tooth is filed. This machine is based on CAD/CAM technology (computer-aided design/manufacturing technology). The cap is made up by the machine using a scan of the filed tooth. A great benefit of CAD/CAM (e.g. “Cerec“) that the treatment takes one visit only for preparation and fitting.
You are now hopefully somewhat wiser as to what a dental crown procedure involves. For specific advice on your own case, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist on what’s involved!