According to the American College of Prosthodontists, dental crowns are the most commonly performed restorative procedure. For dental professionals, this comes as no surprise since they know just how versatile dental crowns are a restoration option. However, most people are not dental professionals and may not even know that much about dental crowns or how they are used.
Dental crowns are tooth-shaped caps that are custom-made to fit over an existing tooth, allowing for the preservation and restoration of a natural tooth. To place a dental crown, however, the natural tooth structure must be altered so that the crown can fit on top without affecting the bite. After any decayed tissue has been removed and the remaining tooth structure has been shaped, then a dental impression will be taken. This dental impression is sent to a dental laboratory where it is used to fabricate a custom crown perfectly fitted to the patient’s mouth. When the permanent crown has been completed, it will be cemented in place over the top of the existing tooth.
Now that we know what dental crowns are and how they are placed, let’s take a look at how they are used. Here are five things that dental crowns can fix:
By far, the most common problem that dental crowns are used to fix is tooth decay. Although there are other restorations for decayed teeth, crowns are generally used in cases where the decay threatens the structural integrity of the tooth. For example, large areas of decay or multiple decayed locations on the same tooth. Since these situations can significantly weaken the tooth, the chance of future damage or decay is high. Therefore after the decayed tissue is removed, a dental crown is placed over the top of the tooth to provide stability and protection.
Just like decay can impair a tooth’s structure and ability to protect itself, damage can also have the same effect. This is especially true in cases where a chip or crack is deep enough to reach the inside of the tooth, since this can lead to a pulp infection. To prevent future complications from occurring after a tooth has become damaged, dental crowns are used to protect the tooth.
Besides damage or decay, teeth can also become sensitive to hot, cold, and sweet. This can be a symptom of another problem, however it can also occur when the tooth’s enamel has worn down. It is normal for enamel to wear down over time, however some people have thinner enamel than others or their enamel may wear down faster. When the enamel wears down, it is no longer able to prevent stimuli from entering the tooth and irritating the nerve. In these cases, placing a dental crown alleviates tooth sensitivity since it acts as a protective barrier between the inside of the tooth and external stimuli.
There are also several different cosmetic imperfections that can affect the teeth. In most cases, these imperfections are only cosmetic and do not affect the function of the teeth. Nevertheless, they can make one feel self-conscious about their smile. Some of these imperfections include: stains that are not responsive to whitening treatments, oddly shaped teeth, or unevenly sized teeth. In these cases, placing a dental crown essentially covers up the imperfections with an aesthetically pleasing crown.
An Uneven Bite
Although crowns cannot necessarily correct a crooked bite, they can sometimes be used to fix an uneven bite. An uneven bite can occur when multiple teeth are unevenly sized, causing the upper and lower arches to not meet properly. Uneven bites can increase the risk of tooth damage, as well as jaw joint dysfunction. Placing one or more dental crowns can add uniformity to the size of the teeth, which can allow the bite to sit more evenly.
Dr. Alina Huang has been practicing dentistry in Manhattan for the last eight years. She was born in New York City, and raised in California where she received her Bachelor’s degree at UCLA, and her D.D.S. at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco. She then made her return to NYC where she completed her General Practice Residency at Montefiore Medical Center and has been working in private practice ever since. She continues her learning by attending courses to stay current with the latest advancements in dentistry and refine her skills.