"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.." - Shakespeare
While most people likely do not look forward to getting a dental crown, it sometimes becomes necessary. However, not everyone is familiar with what a crown is-- or why they're needed. So, what exactly is a dental crown? A crown-- which is kind of like an artificial layer of enamel placed over a tooth-- serves a number of functions. A dental crown not only improves the appearance of a damaged tooth, it also strengthens the tooth and restores it to its original shape and size. Crowns are usually custom made for your particular tooth by a dental lab technician. Sometimes it is also possible to make an in -office, CADCAM designed Cerec crown. Let's discuss some more information about crowns below.
When is a crown needed?
If your dentist has recommended a crown to you, you might wonder why it's necessary. Crowns are typically recommended in the following situations:
- Large filling replacement. If you have a large filling that needs replacement, your dentist might recommend a crown instead. This is particularly true if the filling is so large that there is very little tooth remaining.
- Repair a fractured tooth. Sometimes, fractured teeth are restored by using dental crowns. The tooth-shaped cap is placed over the damaged tooth, helping to strengthen it.
- Prevent fracture. Not only are crowns used to repair fractured teeth, they are also sometimes used to prevent fractures in weak and at-risk teeth.
- Root canal. If you've had a root canal, your dentist will likely place a crown over the affected tooth.
- Improve appearance. If you have a chipped, discolored, or otherwise damaged tooth, a crown is sometimes used to improve its appearance.
Caring for your dental crown
When cared for properly, a dental crown can last between five and fifteen years. It's important to maintain good oral hygiene and remember that your crown isn't immune to tooth decay or gum disease. Thus, brushing your teeth at least twice a day and daily flossing is essential. When flossing and brushing, take special care of the area around the crown, where the tooth and crown margins meet. Make sure to visit your dentist and hygienist for regular preventative care as well.
Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.
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