Getting a dental crown procedure the first time and not sure what to expect? Here’s everything you need to know.
A dental crown is a cap that covers a tooth in order to restore, protect, and preserve it. It helps stabilize the tooth, stops the spread of decay, and ensures your smile looks and feels exactly as it should. It could also protect implants, cover large cavities, reinforce teeth after root canals, and support dental bridges that hold a set of artificial teeth.
Some common reasons for needing a dental crown include cracked teeth, weak teeth, misshapen or discolored teeth, and teeth that have been worn down from grinding. Although they are made from synthetic materials, they’re designed to look exactly like real teeth. There are three main types of dental crowns:
- Porcelain — Porcelain or ceramic crowns look the most natural, but they are more fragile than other types and tend to not last as long.
- Porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) — With an exterior made of porcelain and a core portion made of metal, PFM crowns are more durable than pure porcelain but are slightly less realistic.
- Metal — These crowns are usually the most durable and least expensive, as they are made from metals like copper or nickel. Because they appear gold or silver in color, they are typically only used for back teeth.
Regardless of the type, purpose, and reason for getting a dental crown, the process of getting it is pretty much the same.
What Happens During the Procedure?
The first step in the dental crown procedure is an examination of your mouth, specifically the tooth that needs the crown and the surrounding area. Your dentist might take X-rays of your tooth in order to better see the roots and bone.
Next, your dentist will apply a local anesthetic to your tooth. This will help you feel less pain during the procedure itself. The anesthetic could be either in the form of a numbing agent injected into the gum, or conscious sedation. For the latter, your doctor may use an intravenous sedation or have you inhale nitrous oxide through a mask. General anesthesia may be used for patients with severe anxiety.
After the anesthetic is applied and working, your dentist will prepare your tooth for the crown’s placement. Your dentist might file or shave down your tooth, remove parts of the tooth’s outer layer, or even build back up a broken tooth. This step is critical — an improperly-prepared tooth can create more complications down the line, including further pain and physical stress into your mouth or jaw.
What happens next depends on whether you are getting a single day procedure or a several-day procedure.
After examining your tooth and preparing it, your dentist will make an impression of the tooth and the surrounding area. The impression is then sent to a lab, where a crown will be made to fit the exact dimensions. In the meantime, your dentist will give you a temporary crown that fits over your tooth. This temporary crown isn’t designed for long-term use, but it will protect the vulnerable tooth until the permanent crown is installed.
Once the temporary crown is placed, go home and be extra careful with your tooth. About two weeks later, you’ll return to the dentist and they’ll remove your temporary crown. Your dentist will then attach your crown using dental cement. Once the crown is fitted correctly and feels right, your dentist will clean up any excess cement and send you home
Your dentist may offer same-day dental crowns, such as CEREC. CEREC, which is what we use for single-day procedures at Espire Dental, uses computer-aided design (CAD) to scan the tooth in order to create a 3D model. This model guides the creation of a porcelain crown right in the dentist’s office!
First, your dentist will take digital scans of your mouth and the affected tooth. While you wait in your dentist’s office, a milling device uses the 3D model to sculpt out the crown from a block of ceramic. The crown is ready in about an hour, after which your dentist will attach it to your tooth with dental cement.
Like any medical procedure, there are some potential risks involved with getting a dental crown. The main hazard is that your tooth could be weakened or chipped during the preparation of your tooth. Such an injury could damage the tooth’s root or nerve, which usually results in a root canal. Improper placement of the crown could also cause bite misalignment, causing mouth pain and tooth rubbing that could eventually wear down enamel.
Our team at Espire Dental are experts when it comes to dental crown procedures. We offer same-day and multi-day procedures for all types of crowns, and we’ll work with you to choose the right material and procedure type for your unique needs. It’s important to know what to expect up front, but we’ll be there to answer any and all questions along the way! Call our Oklahoma City practice today at (405) 308-4595 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.