A dental crown is a cap that can cover a natural tooth that has been severely chipped (beyond what a veneer can adequately protect), fractured in an accident (not just slightly cracked), or ground down (usually due to tension in the jaw while sleeping). A crown can also replace the visible part of a tooth that has been damaged beyond repair, connected to a dental implant screw that is fixed into the jawbone.
So crowns are an essential part of restoring your oral health and the ability to chew easily and speak clearly, as well a major part of a cosmetic makeover (even celebrities were not born with perfectly gleaming smiles).
The exact type of crown you need has to be decided by you and Dr. Cluff after going over all your options that will get you to the point where you can flash a full and friendly smile confidently. A missing molar in the back that doesn’t show when you smile might not need to be an exact imitation of the more visible teeth in the front, but strength would be the priority for the cap because so much chewing is done there. Every patient’s needs are different.
Dr. Cluff has found that zirconia crowns are generally the best solution. These look like ones made of dental porcelain, which appear to be natural teeth, but zirconia combines this with a biocompatible metal that makes its crowns stronger and more durable.
Dr. Cluff will first do a full dental exam with a digital x-ray (which involves minimal radiation) to be sure that you do not have underlying problems, such as periodontal disease, which need to be treated first. In some cases, this will reveal the need to strengthen the jawbone with a bone graft, so that an implant can be screwed in, then the socket allowed to heal before it is attached to a crown to restore the ability to chew.
If you have been grinding your teeth at night (known as bruxism and patients are often not aware of this unless a partner complains), she will prepare a personalized nightguard, like a sports mouthguard, which you can wear while sleeping to protect teeth from further damage.
If you are ready to proceed with a crown immediately, Dr. Cluff will take a mold of any tooth needing the cap and make a temporary that will enable you to chew easily. The mold will be sent to a top dental laboratory, with photos and instructions on how to create a cap that will match the neighboring teeth. This takes about two weeks.
After the crown is placed and adjusted for an exact fit, you will continue to clean, brush and floss it and have your dental hygienist treat the capped tooth like all your others. Properly cared for, a crown can last more than 10 years.
Call today to set an appointment to learn about your best options for getting to your personal perfect smile.