About the last thing you want is to have a tooth extracted. Sometimes, however, a tooth’s strength can be compromised by a deep crack or an overly large cavity. Now the tooth is weakened and it probably won’t survive the daily forces involved in biting and chewing. To save a tooth in this condition, Dr. Steier uses porcelain crowns. A porcelain crown returns the strength, appearance, and function of a tooth.
What is a Porcelain Crown?
When it comes to a tooth, you can think of it as two parts, the root and the crown. The root is anchored into the jawbone and is covered by the gums. The visible upper portion of the tooth is called the clinical crown. An artificial restoration that covers the entire clinical crown is called a dental crown.
If you’re a little older, you may have heard crowns referred to as “caps.” This was a term used frequently when crowns were made predominantly of gold. The term probably came from the way a crown fits over the top of the tooth, like a cap. But unlike a cap, a crown fits over the entire visible portion of the tooth down to the gum line. It restores the original size and shape of the natural tooth, plus it returns strength to the tooth and eliminates the need for extraction.
We Only Use Porcelain Crowns
Dr. Steier uses only porcelain crowns in her practice. Porcelain is incredibly strong. Plus, porcelain closely resembles natural tooth enamel in the way it partially absorbs and partially reflects light. Dental porcelain is very resistant to staining, as well.
What Dental Problems Do You Use Crowns to Fix?
Crowns can be restorative, aesthetic, or functional. As mentioned above, they restore the strength to a damaged tooth. But Dr. Steier also places crowns on certain teeth to improve their aesthetic appearance, when a tooth is misshapen, for instance. Crowns also function as the anchors for dental bridges.
- Here are typical dental problems where a crown may be used:
- Teeth with overly large fillings
- Severely worn down teeth
- Broken or fractured teeth
- Heavily decayed teeth
- Teeth with decay that already have a filling
- Misshapen teeth
- Severely discolored teeth
- Teeth that have had a root canal
How Are Porcelain Crowns Placed?
Placing a crown on a tooth requires two appointments with Dr. Steier. The first appointment is all about preparing the tooth. Any damaged or decayed areas of the tooth are removed first, and the tooth is thoroughly cleaned. If the patient’s teeth have some staining from foods or beverages such as coffee, Dr. Steier may want to whiten the teeth first to return them to their natural color. Next she shaves down the tooth on all sides and the top. This is necessary to make room for the crown — the crowned tooth needs to be the same size as the natural tooth was before. Now, we take photographs and impressions of your teeth. We send these to the dental lab to guide their fabrication of your custom crown. While we await the crown (the process usually takes around two weeks), Dr. Steier places a temporary crown on your tooth.
When your finished crown arrives, you return for your second appointment. We again clean your teeth. Then Dr. Steier tests your crown for fit and for color match with your adjacent teeth. When both Dr. Steier and you are satisfied with the fit, she cements the crown permanently to your tooth. You can immediately use your new, stronger, crowned tooth; no waiting or recovery is necessary.
Porcelain Crowns Before and After
How Long Do Dental Crowns Last?
Porcelain is very durable, and porcelain crowns can last up to two decades. Their longevity is somewhat up to you; your home hygiene regimen is important because, while the crown won’t decay, the tooth under it can.
Signs Your Existing Crown May Need to Be Replaced
- If you feel that the crown is moving around.
- You feel that the crown is bigger than the original tooth.
- If you can see an opening on the crown.
- You have a bad taste in your mouth or bad breath
- The crown is touching the opposing tooth.
- Sensitivity or discomfort in the tooth.
- If you see your gum has been receding.
If you experience any of these signs, come into our office for a free consultation. We will take X-rays to see if your crown should be replaced. If your crown is not fitting perfectly, this may be considered a leaking crown. If the crown is not replaced or fixed, in 5-10 years your tooth may be completely gone. It is important to have good oral hygiene and replace your crowns when necessary.
What’s the difference between a porcelain crown and Porcelain veneers?
A crown covers the entire visible portion of the tooth. Crowns can be used cosmetically in this way, but more often they are used to save a weakened tooth. Porcelain veneers are purely cosmetic. They consist of thin shells of porcelain applied to the fronts of the visible teeth in your mouth. They do not strengthen the teeth in any way.
Do I have other options other than a crown?
A crown is basically the last chance a tooth has before extraction. Problems such as a deep crack or a large cavity that threaten to break the tooth cannot be solved without a crown. However, if you don’t mind extracting the tooth, then a dental implant or a bridge could be used in place of the damaged (then extracted) tooth.
Schedule a Consultation
If you would like to learn more about porcelain crowns, please call (561) 395-3190 to schedule a consultation at our office in Boca Raton.