Dental crowns are a popular option for patients who need to replace a single tooth due to excessive decay or damage. A crown serves as a replacement for the natural tooth, mimicking the tooth in size, shape and color. There are a number of ways that a crown can be secured in the mouth, but for a typical crown, the patient must still have some viable tooth material that can be used to securely hold the replacement tooth in place. If there is no tooth structure available to serve as a base, then the dentist will recommend either a dental bridge (in which the replacement tooth sits above the gumline but is secured to the adjacent tooth or teeth through the use of a bridge) or a dental implant, which involves surgical implantation of a titanium rod into the jawbone to serve as the base to hold the replacement crown.
When a typical dental crown is required, the existing tooth structure must first be filed down to create the base for the new tooth replacement to sit on. This is accomplished in a single office visit, and after the natural tooth structure has been sufficiently prepared, a dental mold is made so that the crown can be properly fabricated to fit perfectly. Although this takes some time and will require the patient to return for a second office visit so the crown can be permanently secured, the dentist will place a temporary crown over the prepared tooth structure in the interim.
Care needs to be taken while the temporary crown is in the mouth. Since the replacement tooth “cover” is not secured with permanent cement so that it can easily be removed by the dentist when it is time to put in the permanent crown, the temporary cement makes it more prone to loosening or coming out. That’s why chewing should occur as much as possible on the opposite side of the mouth while the temporary is being worn, and care should especially be taken when biting into hard or sticky food, which make it more likely that the temporary crown can be displaced.
Patients may also notice more sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures while the temporary crown is in place, as well as more discomfort when biting, since the temporary replacement is not made to fit the exact dimensions of the tooth like the permanent crown will be.
Once the permanent crown is secured, the tooth should look, feel and function just like a natural tooth. Care should be taken during the first 24 hours, while the permanent cement is allowed to fully cure, but other than avoiding chewing on the side where your new tooth is for the first day, there is not much you have to do that’s different than if the tooth was actually your own.
With proper oral hygiene and dental care, you can expect your permanent crown to last 10, 15, 20 years or more. Just be sure to brush at least twice daily and floss once per day. It’s also important to visit your dentist routinely (most dentists recommend every six months) for a professional cleaning and a check-up to make sure everything looks good. This will help the dentist catch any minor issues with your new crown or any other teeth in your mouth before they become a major problem.
For more information about dental crowns, including proper care, contact Gentle Dental in Queens at 718-461-0100.