When a tooth becomes cracked or otherwise damaged, a dental crown is often used to protect and restore the tooth. In cases where a tooth is completely missing, crowns (commonly known as caps) can be placed over an implant instead. In the past, metal crowns were common for this procedure, but just as fillings have improved over the years to be as inconspicuous as possible, so have crowns. This is the reason why Dr. Zadeh offers the natural and pleasing-looking option of porcelain and ceramic crowns.
Why Would I Need a Dental Crown?
Porcelain and ceramic crowns take the place of a tooth when used with an implant, or to repair and protect a damaged tooth. Cracked teeth, teeth that have undergone a root canal, and dental implants all need to be protected with crowns.
In most cases, crowns can be used to cover a cracked tooth, dead tooth, or a dental implant abutment to make your smile appear whole and natural. The new device not only protects the affected tooth, but the teeth nearby, as missing, damaged, or broken teeth can cause other teeth to shift, or in some cases, lead to infections resulting in additional problems. Crowns protect damaged teeth from further harm, breakage, and deterioration by protecting the often brittle remainder of the tooth and prevent additional invasion of bacteria. For implants, the crown simply serves as an aesthetically pleasing replacement for the missing tooth and provides balance to the smile.
The most common uses are:
- • Restoring your tooth or teeth after root canal therapy
- • Preparing for a bridge fitting
- • Dental Implants
- • Augmenting partial dentures
- • Restoring broken, cracked, or worn teeth
- • Extensive discoloration too severe for veneers or bleaching
How Are Crowns Placed On My Teeth?
Receiving a crown is similar to the process of receiving a bridge. First, Dr. Zadeh will take impressions of your teeth and prepare your tooth or teeth by sanding down the enamel to make room for the cap(s). If there is no tooth or the tooth is broken beyond repair, Dr. Zadeh will first extract the offending tooth and give the patient a dental implant. Dr. Zadeh will then place a temporary crown around the tooth or implant while your permanent crown is being completed in his dental lab.
Once your permanent dental crown is completed, Dr. Zadeh will make adjustments and then set it on your tooth with dental cement. Afterwards, he will make sure that it sits perfectly, feels comfortable, and is secure. As crowns are constructed outside of the mouth, they can be made to fit more precisely than other restorative materials and marginal adaptations such as the seal can be fitted much more precisely. This allows the new crown to blend in seamlessly with the rest of your teeth and replace any missing or damaged tooth structure.
In the past, crowns required a significant part of the tooth to be ground or sheared away to allow the crown to sit properly and match the tooth. This has become progressively less common and minimal preparation is required now for crowns. Often, a very small amount of your tooth will be refined to allow your crown to set. Dr. Zadeh will attempt the most conservative treatment to protect as much of the healthy tooth as possible.
Porcelain crowns can last from ten to fifteen years with proper care and are an extremely convenient way of preserving your teeth. Smoking and/or not regularly cleaning your teeth can stain the porcelain, so good dental hygiene and regular dentist cleanings are a necessity to keep your crown looking its best. Some people may never need to replace their crowns, and while there are no guarantees that your crown will last forever, the high standards of quality that Dr. Zadeh holds will ensure it will last for years to come. The average dental crown lifespan, regardless of material of manufacture, is about 10 years, but there have been instances of crowns lasting 50 years or more. As dental technology continues to improve, crowns lasting for the entire lifespan of a patient will become increasingly common. Porcelain is hardy and comparable to the strength of your original teeth. This is why porcelain crowns are used most commonly for your back teeth.
Other Types of Crowns
Sometimes, Dr. Zadeh chooses to use ceramic crowns for both aesthetic and medical reasons. All-ceramic crowns offer the most natural-looking tooth substitute available today. This is the best choice for front teeth, as the ceramic will best blend in with your remaining front teeth. Porcelain or porcelain fused to metal crowns can sometimes look slightly opaque and not quite as natural. In some cases, the metal behind the porcelain crowns can start to show along the gums over time, another reason why porcelain caps are not the best choice for front teeth. For this reason, Dr. Zadeh tends to recommend the stronger porcelain crowns for back teeth, and the more natural-looking ceramic crowns for front teeth. This mix-and-matching process is not unlike those of veneers, and it will not be uncommon for your crowns, especially if you require multiple, to be made of slightly different materials from crown to crown. This allows the doctor exacting control over the esthetic qualities and give you the most natural appearance possible.
We probably remember spending time with our parents and grandparents and seeing gold or other metallic teeth. Gold alloy crowns are still common, but are not used as often due to their high cost and the disruption they cause to appearance. Gold and its alloys were favored due to their antimicrobial and sturdy nature, but they have been supplanted by the often more affordable porcelain and ceramic crown.
Zirconia crowns are also becoming more common as the technology used to create them improves and affordable. They also have some benefits regarding hot and cold, over traditional crowns — as the material used to create them is not as conductive. Their extreme sturdiness due to the base material’s (zirconium) location of the periodic table also makes them a popular and economic option for long-lasting crowns. Eventually, they will likely supplant other ceramics for their versatility, esthetic, and hardiness. In fact, we make some of our crowns out of zirconia right here in our office in Beverly Hills!
You can view before-and-after photos of porcelain crowns (caps) in our photo gallery.