Dental crowns (“tooth caps”) are one of dentistry’s most versatile restorations. Beyond just offering a way to rebuild and strengthen damaged or compromised teeth, they also provide a way by which a tooth’s overall appearance (color, shape and even apparent alignment) can be vastly improved.
What are dental crowns?
A crown is a type of dental restoration that, when cemented into place, fully cups over that portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line. Since it encases the entire visible aspect of a tooth, a dental crown, in effect, becomes the tooth’s new outer surface.
In comparison, dental fillings are restorations that fill in or patch just a portion of a tooth. Other terms that are used to refer to crowns are “dental caps” and “tooth caps.”
What are dental crowns made out of?
Crowns can be made out of porcelain (meaning some sort of dental ceramic), metal (a gold or other metal alloy), or a combination of both (porcelain-fused-to-metal).
Why do teeth need dental crowns?
A dentist might recommend placing a crown on a tooth for a variety of reasons but, in general, most of them will usually fall within one of the following basic categories:
- Restoring or making changes with a tooth’s shape.
- Strengthening the tooth.
- Improving the cosmetic appearance of the tooth.
A) Restoring/improving the shape of a tooth.
A dental crown can restore the shape of a tooth. It’s not too hard to envision how a dental crown might be used to restore, or even improve, a tooth’s shape.
When a crown is cemented into place, it becomes, in essence, the tooth’s new outer shell. And although they must stay within certain guidelines, it’s easy to see how placing a crown give great control in defining the overall shape of a tooth.
B) Using crowns to strengthen teeth.
Dental crowns are routinely made for teeth that have broken, have large portions missing due to tooth decay or have had root canal treatment. This is because beyond just restoring the tooth’s shape, a crown can provide a reinforcing and strengthening effect for it too.
C) Using porcelain dental crowns to improve the cosmetic appearance of teeth.
A dental crown can improve the cosmetic appearance of a tooth. Because dental crowns encase the visible portion of a tooth, any porcelain crown (all-ceramic or porcelain-fused-to-metal ones) can be used to enhance or idealize the cosmetic appearance of a tooth.