A dental crown, or dental cap, is a type of dental restoration.  Dental crowns protect the ongoing health of broken or worn down teeth as well as teeth with large cavities. They also stabilize dental bridges and provide cosmetic enhancements.  Dental crowns completely cap or encase a tooth or dental implant. Crowns improve the strength and appearance of your teeth.  Permanent dental crowns bond to the tooth with dental cement and are permanent.  Temporary dental crowns are generally plastic and set with temporary adhesive.  They protect your tooth and prevent shifting while awaiting a permanent crown.  Dentists create permanent dental crowns using a dental impression prepared from your tooth.  You can choose stainless steel, alloy metal (like gold or silver), porcelain, resin, or ceramic dental crowns. 

Types of Dental Crowns

  • Stainless steel crowns are silver in color.  They don’t last as long as other metal crowns, so dentists use them on adolescent teeth mostly.
  • Gold alloy dental crowns contain a combination of gold, copper, and other metals. Gold alloy is strong and will not break. It will also not wear away the underlying tooth.
  • Base metal alloy crowns resist corrosion and are also very strong. The metals are gentle against other teeth and your dentist removes only a minimal amount of the tooth structure.
  • Ceramic and porcelain-based crowns primarily restore front teeth. Their natural color and texture blend easily with your natural teeth, but porcelain crowns get brittle under the biting force of molars.
  • Resin crowns are less expensive than other crown types. However, they wear down over time and are more prone to fractures.

What to Expect at Your Appointment

Preparing a tooth for a crown usually requires two visits to your dentist.  The first appointment requires examining and preparing the tooth. The dentist will take X-rays to check the roots of the tooth and the surrounding bone. If the tooth has extensive decay or if there is a risk of infection or injury to the tooth’s endodontium or pulp, a root canal treatment may need to be performed before a dental crown can be placed on the tooth.

Your dentist will begin the procedure by numbing the tooth and the surrounding gum tissue using a local anesthetic such as Novocaine and then file down the tooth creating room for the crown. The type of crown used determines how much of the tooth is filed down. If a large area of the tooth is already missing (due to decay or damage), your dentist will use a filling material to “build up” the tooth to support the crown. After filing or reshaping the tooth, your dentist will use putty to make an impression of the tooth receiving the crown. Your dentist also makes impressions above and below the tooth to ensure that the dental crown will not affect your bite.  A dental lab then creates the crown using your impressions.

At the second visit, your dentist will remove the temporary crown and check the fit and color of the permanent crown. If everything is acceptable, your dentist applies a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and permanently  cements the new crown in place.

For more information on types of crowns and how they are used, see Crowns and Bridges.

For information on how to find a dentist near you, see Dentist Near Me or come visit our blog for more treatment information.