What Is a Crown?
There are times when the strength of a tooth becomes compromised. It may have extensive decay or maybe a large crack or chip. In these cases, a porcelain crown from Dr. Barney can return the strength, appearance, and function to the tooth. The crown saves the tooth, eliminating the need for extraction and a replacement such as a dental implant or bridge.
You may have heard people refer to crowns as “caps.” Although that term isn’t used anymore, it describes what a crown really is — it is a cap of sorts, fitting over the entire area of the tooth above the gum line, restoring the original size and shape of the tooth, and more important, giving it strength.
Crowns are fabricated in a dental lab to precisely fit your tooth and match the color of the adjacent teeth. Because a crown sits atop the natural tooth, it must fit the same size as the natural tooth. To do this, Dr. Barney removes some of the natural tooth width and height as needed so that the crowned tooth will occupy the same space as the natural tooth originally did.
While crowns are made from a variety of materials, from gold alloy to composite resin to porcelain, Dr. Barney only places porcelain crowns on the teeth of his patients. He feels porcelain provides superior strength, durability, and appearance.
What Is a Porcelain Crown?
Dental porcelain is glass-like ceramic and very strong when bonded to your tooth. Dental porcelain provides a surface hard enough to withstand chewing forces, yet not hard enough to wear down the opposing teeth.
In older times most crowns were made of gold alloy, but dentists now use porcelain due to its superior appearance. Porcelain has a very similar appearance to tooth enamel. Both tooth enamel and porcelain are semi-translucent, meaning that some light penetrates them and some bounces off. This combination of absorbing and reflecting gives enamel, and porcelain, its pearly sheen.
Unlike enamel, porcelain has an advantage of being stain-resistant. Coffee, red wine, and the like don’t stain porcelain.
What Problems Can Crowns Solve?
The goal of a crown is to return strength to a tooth, restoring its function. A crown can also cover up serious imperfections. If you have a tooth with any of the following problems, a crown can be a good solution:
- Broken or fractured teeth
- Decayed teeth
- Teeth with large fillings
- Fractured fillings
- Severely worn teeth
- Chipped teeth
- Severely stained teeth
- Misshapen teeth
- Teeth that have had a root canal
- The teeth on both sides of a bridge
Porcelain Crown Procedure
The placement of a porcelain crown with Dr. Barney requires two appointments. During the first appointment, the tooth is prepared. Dr. Barney removes any decay or damaged portions and the tooth is thoroughly cleaned. Next, the healthy exterior of the tooth is shaved down slightly to create room for the crown. Impressions and photographs are then taken of your teeth. These are sent to the dental lab to give them precise measurements and color matching for the fabrication of your crown. This process usually takes around two weeks; in the meantime, Dr. Barney will place a temporary crown on your tooth to protect it until the permanent crown is ready.
When the finished crown arrives at our office, you return for your second appointment. We first clean all of your teeth. Then Dr. Barney checks the porcelain crown for fit and for its color match with the adjacent teeth. If needed, he will shave small bits off the crown to achieve the perfect fit. Once the two of you are satisfied with the look and fit, the crown is then permanently cemented onto your tooth. You’re then good to go; no recovery or waiting time is necessary and you can go out and eat normal foods with your new, stronger crowned tooth.
Before and After
Porcelain Crown vs. Porcelain Veneer
Some people confuse these two dental options because they both use porcelain, but they are not remotely the same. A crown restores strength and function to a tooth. A porcelain veneer is simply a cosmetic improvement, where a thin shell of porcelain is placed on the front of the tooth to cover imperfections.
Porcelain Crown Care
Your beautiful new crown requires no special care, just attentive brushing and flossing every day. If you remove plaque and food debris from your teeth, your crown will last for a long time.
How Long Do Porcelain Crowns Last?
Porcelain crowns can last for decades, but their endurance often relates directly to your home hygiene. After all, the porcelain won’t decay, but the tooth underneath it still can. Other bad habits such as chewing ice and biting your fingernails can shorten the lifespan of a crown.
Do I Have Other Options Than a Crown?
A crown can really be thought of as a last chance to save a tooth. When there is too much decay, a filling will replace too much of the tooth material and the tooth will not hold up to bite forces. Serious cracks or chips will have the same issues. If you opt to not place a crown on a severely damaged tooth, the only other option is eventual extraction. At that point, you can replace the extracted tooth with a dental implant or a bridge.