Seven Commonly Asked Questions About Tooth Crowns

Bedford dentist, Dr David Nolte, answers your queries.

After fillings, dental crowns are perhaps the most commonly used treatment for a broken or badly damaged tooth.

They are an excellent way to provide a sufficiently strong repair in this type of situation. They are also commonly used as part of both a dental implant procedure and a root canal treatment.

Although generally fairly well understood, there are a number of questions that we hear from time to time at The Dental Centre Bedford, and we address these questions below.

Why do I need a crown?

To some patients, it might seem as though a crown is used to restore the appearance of a tooth, rather than for any practical purposes. This is generally more widely asked where a tooth has broken but is causing no pain and has no uncomfortable sharp edges. It is true that a crown will improve the appearance of a tooth, but this is rarely the sole reason why it is needed.

Any tooth that has broken to the extent where a crown is required, will almost certainly have exposed the less well protected areas of the tooth, such as the dentin layer. This needs to be protected to prevent inevitable tooth decay. Where a filling would not work or be insufficient, a crown will be needed. If this was not applied, you would almost certainly suffer from toothache in the not so distant future and it may eventually result in the need for an extraction.

Will it look natural?

This applies particularly to the front teeth where any difference in the colour could appear obvious. You can be assured that any crown that is produced for you will be made in a shade to match the colour of your natural teeth. If you are planning to have your teeth whitened at any stage though, please discuss this with us, as this procedure will whiten your natural teeth but will not affect the crown.

How many appointments will it take?

Generally speaking, the fitting of a crown takes two appointments; one to take impressions of the damaged tooth from which the laboratory will produce your new crown, and a second one to fit the crown when it has been returned to your dentist.

Now the good news, thanks to the CEREC system that is available here at our practice, this can all be done in one visit. The tooth will be digitally scanned and your crown then milled from a single block of ceramic or porcelain. This process takes around an hour after which the new crown can be fitted to the prepared tooth. In addition to this benefit, some studies have also shown that CEREC produced crowns are stronger and more durable than laboratory produced ones.

Does the procedure hurt?

Any invasive dental procedure will involve a small degree of discomfort, but the local anaesthetic will prevent you from feeling any actual pain. Unfortunately we can’t simply place  a crown on the existing tooth in most cases, as it will need to be shaped in order to make the crown secure. The CEREC system does prevent the need for impressions though, which some people really dislike having done.

What are crowns made from?

Most commonly, crowns are produced from ceramic, porcelain, and less common, due to the cost, gold. We can discuss these options with you and find the one that is most suitable and affordable for you.

How long will a crown last, once fitted?

This will vary widely from patient to patient and is almost impossible to predict; but with good care, they should last you for many years. Failure to look after your teeth may well lead to decay of the natural part of the tooth onto which the crown is fitted, and may cause it to fail eventually. Crowns rarely break themselves, but may occasionally become detached. This is more likely after a number of years as the dental adhesive used starts to lose some of its strength. Never attempt to reattach a displaced crown yourself, but instead, call our Bedfordshire dental clinic and ask for a dentist to do this for you.

Are crowns suitable if I grind my teeth?

Crowns can often be used to restore teeth that have been damaged through grinding (bruxism). However, it is far better to do this once the habit has been overcome and our advice is to discuss the options with one of our dentists if you suffer from this.

If you would like to know more about crowns, or if you have a specific question that we have not answered, please do feel free to get in touch with us. An assessment will be required if you think that you may need a crown and an initial appointment can be made by calling The Dental Centre Bedford on 01234 819868.

Dr David Nolte – Dental Surgeon