What is a crown?

A crown is placed over a tooth covering the whole biting surface, and held in place by dental adhesive or cement.
Crowns are used for several reasons:

  • As a protective cover for badly decayed or fractured teeth
  • As a permanent restoration for teeth if a large filling is unsuitable
  • To correct minor problems in natural teeth like spacing and irregular shape or severe discolouration.

What are crowns made from?

Crowns can be made from a variety of materials. They can be made from plastic, ceramic (Cerec) or metal alloys. A combination of metal and ceramic is also possible to maximise strength and to give the appearance of a natural tooth.

How are crowns made?

Firstly, a thorough clinical examination is conducted with radiographs, by the dentist. The suitability for crowns is assessed and any preliminary work is carried out. Your dentist will also be able to give advice on choices of material and answer any other questions you have.

In the second stage of making a crown, the teeth to be crowned are prepared. This involves removing any decay or fractured part of the tooth (usually under local anaesthesia) followed by an impression. The impression taken is then sent to a laboratory where skilled technicians will make the crown. In the meantime, a temporary crown is made and fitted onto the prepared tooth.

At the third appointment, the temporary crown is removed and the tooth surfaces cleaned. The completed crown is cemented onto the prepared tooth with dental cement.

Crowns are made of inert materials that do not deteriorate over time. However, the underlying tooth is still prone to decay and gum disease, so keeping the tooth clean is vital to prolong the life time of the existing crown.

Ceramic on the surface can chip or fracture. Avoid chewing excessively-hard substances like ice or bones. Daily brushing and flossing are essential for maintaining good oral health. The most vulnerable part of the crown is the margin where tooth and crown meet.

Regular check-ups will enable your dentist to detect any problems with your crown early on, and recommend necessary treatment.