If you have a tooth that is too damaged to be repaired with a filling, a dental crown can be a good way to restore it and prolong its life. Dental crowns are custom-made to fit over your existing tooth stub (after all decay and damage is removed). It will give the tooth new surfaces on all sides and be shaped precisely so as to meet the opposing teeth comfortably without affecting your bite.
In past years, crowns were always metal, preferably a noble metal like gold, with small percentages of other metals to increase strength. At the Coleman Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, we still offer gold alloy crowns for those who want them and they work well on back teeth where they cannot be seen when you smile. They provide a strong chewing surface, are very durable, and do not damage the opposing teeth. We also offer porcelain crowns which match your natural teeth.
Your pearly-white porcelain crown can be porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) or all-porcelain. There is a different substance on the interior of the crown than on the outside surface.
The earlier cosmetic dentistry crowns had gray metal linings to increase the porcelain strength. Initially a new crown’s lining is slightly below the gumline. As we age, our gums slowly recede and expose the edge of the lining. With PFM crowns this edge becomes visible as a dark streak at the gumline.
More recently, zirconia has been developed as a porcelain crown lining. It is a white crystalline substance and a type of ceramic and it adds strength to the dental porcelain. It may also be exposed by receding gums but being white, it is not visible. It blends in smoothly with the surrounding teeth and the crown’s outer porcelain surface.
Dental porcelain and tooth enamel react to light in similar ways. They are both semi-translucent, absorbing some light and reflecting some. This gives them both a similar pearly sheen. Your porcelain crown will not be visible as a crown but will look like one of your natural teeth.
Once you and Dr. Coleman decide that a porcelain crown is the best choice for you, there are two visits required.
The damaged tooth is cleaned of all decay and bacterial detritus. An impression is taken, along with digital photos, and these are sent to Dr. Coleman’s dental laboratory. A temporary crown is placed for the short waiting period while the lab makes your crown according to Dr. Coleman’s instructions.
The temporary crown is removed, the tooth stub cleaned and dried, and Dr. Coleman will test the new crown to make sure it blends in with your bite. Then he will permanently attach it, fine-tune its shape, and polish it.
You would need to use the same daily dental hygiene for your crown that you use for your natural teeth. Daily brushing and flossing will help prevent bacteria from getting beneath the crown. You should also come in regularly to our cosmetic dentistry office for a check-up and professional cleaning.
For more about dental hygiene, please see Ten Tips for Excellent Dental Health.
To learn more about porcelain crowns and whether they would be a good option for you, please contact cosmetic dentist Dr. Paul Coleman for a complimentary consultation. Our office serves San Diego, La Jolla, and Poway in California.