For Austin, Texas dental patients with one or more teeth that are too badly damaged to be repaired by dental fillings, dental crowns are often an excellent option. A crown (also referred to as a “cap”) is a dental restoration that is custom made to fit snugly over the affected tooth, covering the entire surface – right down to the gum line. Dental crowns have been used by dentists for many decades and with good reason – a crown is often the best way to save a tooth that might otherwise need to be extracted. If you are considering getting a crown to repair a badly decayed or weakened tooth, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve compiled the following information about the tooth crown procedure so you can know what to expect.
The Standard Tooth Crown Procedure
Typically, getting a new crown will require two trips to your dentist’s office: the first trip will involve the dentist preparing the affected tooth and fitting you with a temporary crown, and the second visit will be when the permanent crown is fitted onto the tooth.
- During the first visit: The process usually begins when the dentist or dental assistant takes an X-ray of your tooth and jaw to check for decay and/or infection in the pulp of the tooth. If the pulp does have decay or infection present, a root canal will be needed before the crown procedure can continue. Assuming the pulp of the tooth is in good shape, the dentist will proceed with the next step in the process, which is to remove any existing decay from the tooth and reshape it to accommodate the crown. The amount of reshaping required will depend on the type of crown used. If you’ll be fitted with a metal crown, your tooth won’t require as much reshaping since metal crowns are generally a bit thinner than other types. If your dentist plans on fitting you with a porcelain crown, he/she will need to do a bit more reshaping of the tooth since these restorations are somewhat thicker. The reshaping will involve not only removing decay, but also filing down the sides and top of the tooth to allow for the thickness of the crown.
- The next step in the process involves your dentist making an impression of the reshaped tooth. This impression will be used by an outside dental lab to create your permanent crown. The traditional method of making an impression is with dental putty. This material is spread into an impression tray and inserted into your mouth. Your dentist will ask you to bite down on the putty and hold it in place for a period of time until the putty becomes firm.
- After that, your dentist will remove the tray and proceed with the final portion of your first visit: fitting you with a temporary crown. The temporary crown is typically made from an acrylic-based material and designed to protect the prepared tooth until the permanent crown is ready to be fitted, which is usually between 10 and 14 days after your first visit.
- During the second visit: The second visit to your dentist’s office will be much shorter than the first. It will begin by the dentist removing your temporary crown and cleaning the reshaped tooth. After that, he/she will carefully set your permanent crown onto the affected tooth, checking to make sure that it fits snugly in place. Your dentist may have to do some minor reshaping of the crown, removing it to file it down as needed, and fitting it once again on the affected tooth. Your dentist may have to repeat this step a few times to ensure that the crown fits perfectly. Finally, your dentist will cement the crown in place over the tooth, checking to make sure that your bite is normal and that the crown feels comfortable inside your mouth.
Same-Day Tooth Crown Procedure
In the past few years, an increasing number of dentists have started to offer their patients “same-day crowns.” Although these restorations are quite similar to traditional crowns, the process involved in creating the crown is much different. Just as the name implies, same-day crowns require only one trip to the dentist’s office. During that visit, your dentist will prepare the affected tooth in much the same way as he/she would do for a traditional crown – by taking an X-ray, then removing existing decay and reshaping the tooth to accommodate the new crown. But rather than taking an impression of the tooth using dental putty and an impression tray, with same-day crowns your dentist will using a scanning device called a wand to take 3D images of the tooth. These images are then uploaded to a computer and, using this digital model, your dentist will create a ceramic crown right there in the office while you wait! Once the permanent crown is created – a process that can typically be completed in just a few minutes – your dentist will fit you with your new, permanent ceramic crown! Same-day crowns offer several obvious benefits: the procedure takes one visit instead of two; you don’t have to sit with messy dental putty in your mouth for an impression to be made; and you won’t need to wear a temporary crown. While there are advantages to same-day crowns, not every dentist offers this service, and it may not be the best choice for every patient.
There’s no doubt that a crown – whether traditional or “same-day” – is often an excellent way to restore a tooth that can’t be saved by a filling. But crowns have other purposes as well. These restorations are affixed to the top of dental implants and used in dental bridges to replace missing teeth. Crowns usually last a patient for many, many years and can be created to very closely match the shade of your other existing teeth. For more information on the tooth crown procedure, contact your Austin, Texas dentist today and schedule an appointment.