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Dental Crowns

Treatment Overview

A crown (often called a cap) fits over and replaces the entire part of a decayed tooth above the gum line. It encases the tooth and becomes the tooth's new outer surface.

You may need two or more visits to your dentist to repair a severely decayed tooth with a crown.

Crowns may be made of porcelain or a metal base covered with a thin layer of ceramic that matches your teeth and looks like a normal, healthy tooth. Crowns for the teeth in the back of the mouth may be made of gold.

During your first visit, your dentist will take out the decay and make an impression of your teeth to create a mold used for making the crown. The crown may be temporary. In this case, you will need a second visit.

What To Expect

Your lips and gums may stay numb for a few hours until the anesthetic wears off. To avoid injuring your mouth, be careful not to chew on your numb lip or cheek.

Why It Is Done

A crown is used to:

  • Treat teeth that have broken or decayed so much that your dentist cannot fix them with a filling.
  • Cover a tooth that is so severely damaged that most of the top part had to be removed.
  • Repair a defective filling.
  • Improve how a tooth looks.

Dentists sometimes use crowns after root canal treatment to seal the tooth and prevent it from breaking.

How Well It Works

A crown will work just like a healthy tooth. Crowns sometimes come loose or wear out over time. So you may need to get a crown cemented again or replaced.

Risks

If tooth decay is right next to the pulp, the pulp may not be strong enough to make healthy dentin, which surrounds and protects the pulp. If this happens, your dentist or endodontist may have to remove the pulp, or an oral surgeon may have to remove the tooth root.

If you have certain heart problems, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics before a dental procedure. Some procedures can cause bacteria in the mouth to enter the bloodstream and cause infections in other parts of the body. The antibiotics lower your risk of getting an infection in your heart called endocarditis.

Credits

Current as of: June 30, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Arden Christen DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry