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07 / 10 / 2018

An Explanation of Dental Crowns


Most people have heard of a dental crown – but not everybody is sure what it actually is.

A crown is actually an artificial cover or ‘cap’ that fits over an existing tooth. It is nothing to do with fillings, veneers or dental implants. A crown is most often used to repair and strengthen teeth that are broken or weak. It’s an effective way to restore a tooth’s shape and size, and also improve its function and alignment. Teeth with cavities that are too big to be filled are usually restored with a crown. In addition, crowns can be used for aesthetic purposes, to camouflage discoloured, unsightly or misshapen teeth. Dental Crowns can be temporary or permanent. Certain materials offer more longevity than others. However, properly cared-for crowns should last for many years.

The different types of dental crowns

Crowns are available in a variety of different materials. The most common include:

  • Porcelain
  • Porcelain bonded to precious metal
  • Ceramic
  • Porcelain and composite.






As the name suggests, porcelain crowns are made entirely from porcelain. Their main advantage is that they are smooth and translucent, so look very natural. This is why they are most often used for the front teeth. However, they are less durable than other options, and not as strong as bonded crowns. In fact, porcelain is more susceptible to wear and tear, chipping and breaking. Some patients experience hypersensitivity to hot and cold, too.

Porcelain bonded crowns are a very popular option, largely because they provide a good compromise between strength and aesthetics. The porcelain top is applied in layers over a precious base metal. These crowns are suitable for both anterior and posterior teeth. However, it is sometimes possible to see a dark line (the metal component) where the crown meets the tooth.

Ceramic crowns are a metal-free alternative that delivers the strength of a bonded crown, combined with the appearance of porcelain. They are less durable than metal crowns, and more prone to cracking.

Porcelain and composite crowns are another natural-looking option. They are not the most durable, so are likely to need replacing earlier. But they are ideal for anyone with metal sensitivities.

How will my dentist fit my crown?

Preparation is key to a successful crown fitting – as is a skilled practitioner. Most crowns will require two separate fittings. At Lighthouse Dental Practice, our expert team is led by Dental Surgeons Dr Tocca and Dr Griffin. They are supported by our qualified dental nurses and knowledgeable practice receptionist.

Before your chosen crown can be fitted, your dentist will need to prepare your tooth. To do this, he or she will remove/trim down the tooth’s outer layers, so the crown fits neatly on top. The tooth’s inner core will remain. The thickness of the crown dictates how much tooth should be removed.

Once your tooth has been appropriately shaped, your dentist will take a number of impressions or moulds. These will help the crown to be custom-made, for a perfect fit. Your dentist will also note the shade of your natural teeth, so your new crown will blend in. At this stage, you may be fitted with a temporary crown as an interim measure. As a result, this will protect your tooth until the permanent crown is ready.

At your next appointment, your permanent crown will be checked for fit and appearance. If you and your dentist are happy, it will be fixed in place with an adhesive known as dental cement. This forms the seal that will hold the crown in place. You’ll need to bite down, usually on cotton gauze, until the cement sets completely. Then, any excess cement around the tooth will be gently scraped away.

Will having a crown fitted hurt?

No, it shouldn’t hurt. Before the treatment begins you will be given a local anaesthetic to numb your mouth. Some of the “filing” sensations may feel a little strange. However, the preparation work should feel no different to that of a filling.

Once the crown is fitted, initially it may feel unfamiliar and you will probably be very aware of it. This is perfectly natural, as it is likely to be a different size and shape to your pre-treatment tooth. But you’ll get used to it very quickly. Before too long your crown should look, feel and function like a natural tooth.

However, if your new crown continues to feel uncomfortable, or your bite feels wrong, make sure you tell your dentist. He or she will then check and make any necessary adjustments to the fit.

How should I care for my crown?

It’s completely normal to feel nervous with something new in your mouth. But it’s important to treat your crown like a natural tooth. You’ll need to keep it scrupulously clean. Because it’s an artificial restoration, the crown itself cannot decay. However, decay can occur in the small space where the edge of the crown joins the tooth. To combat this, you’ll need to brush thoroughly – we suggest at least twice a day – with high-quality toothpaste. You should also floss regularly, or use a special interdental brush, to clean in between your teeth.

Lastly, if you’re prone to clenching or grinding your teeth, your dentist may recommend wearing a mouth guard at night. Repeated grinding will wear down your crown (and your natural teeth!). However, a suitable guard will offer good protection and help prolong the life of your crown.

Want to find out more about our range of dental crowns? Call our practice now on 01473 257379 for more information.

We are here to help you.
If you would like to speak to a member of our friendly team about any of the issues in this article please visit our contact page or call us on 01473 257379.

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