A dental crown is a cap that covers a damaged tooth. The crown makes the tooth stronger and also improves how the teeth look.
A dental crown may be needed if your tooth is broken, decayed, worn down, or severely discolored. Crowns are also used to:
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Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your dentist will review potential problems, like:
Talk to your dentist about these risks before the procedure.
It typically takes two visits to have a crown placed. Before these appointments, you and your dentist will decide which type of crown is best for you. Different materials are used to create permanent crowns, such as:
You will also have dental exams. The dentist will evaluate the health of your tooth's roots.
It is also important that you talk to your dentist if you take any medicines, herbs, or supplements. You may need to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
In addition, tell your dentist if you have any heart conditions or joint replacements. You may need to take antibiotics to prevent infection.
Local anesthesia will be used.
The dentist will numb the area surrounding the tooth, usually by injecting a local anesthetic into the gum. Next, the dentist will prepare the tooth for the crown. The surfaces will need to be filed down. If you are missing part of the tooth, the dentist may need to add material to the tooth so that the crown can be placed. This filling material is called a crown buildup.
The dentist will make impressions of your tooth and the surrounding teeth. This is to make sure that the new crown will not impact your bite. The impressions will be sent to a dental lab where the crown will be made. If you are planning to have a porcelain crown, the dentist will help you select a shade that looks like your natural tooth color. Finally, the dentist will protect your tooth by placing a temporary crown on it. The permanent crown should be ready in 2-3 weeks.
A newer technique involves digital technology where a permanent crown can be made in the office in an hour or two.
During the second visit, the dentist will numb the area again. The temporary crown will be removed. Cement will be used to secure the new crown in place.
You will need to have about two visits over the course of several weeks. Each visit may last about 30-60 minutes.
You may have some pain when the local anesthetic is injected. After the procedure, you may have discomfort or sensitivity around your tooth.
You will be able to go home after the procedure.
When you return home, take these steps:
With the proper care, a crown can last for 5-15 years.
Call your dentist if:
If you have an emergency, get medical care right away.
American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry
American Dental Association
Canadian Academy for Esthetic Dentistry
Canadian Dental Association
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Dental crown—tooth cap. Redrock Dental website. Available at: http://www.redrockdental.org/dental-crowns.html . Accessed April 10, 2013.
Dental crowns. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelan... . Updated December 10, 2011. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Dental crowns. Dental Associates website. Available at: http://www.dentala... . Accessed April 10, 2013.
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Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 2/12/2014