Beautifully restoring form and function.

What is a dental crown?

dental-crown-prepA crown completely caps or encircles a tooth or dental implant and is one of the most effective ways to restore the functionality of damaged teeth while also providing an aesthetic solution. Crowns are beneficial for many reasons; they strengthen teeth that are cracked, have large fillings, have excessive decay or that were previously treated with a root canal. They can correct minor tooth misalignments, the negative results of excessive wear, and they can improve the aesthetics or appearance of your teeth. Crowns also can be placed over dental implants to provide a functioning tooth.

Why would I need a dental crown?

Crowns are often a necessity when a tooth is so severely damaged or decayed that a filling would not provide the proper amount of structural integrity for the tooth. A large filling puts a tooth at a greater risk for breakage. A crown provides increased strength versus a filling in part because it encapsulates the exposed portion of a tooth. Once a crown is permanently cemented your tooth is better equipped to withstand the forces of chewing that routinely takes place in your mouth.

What material will my dental crown be made from?

Crowns are made out of porcelain, metal, or a combination of the two. Porcelain has remarkable properties that imitate tooth structure and can be sculpted to a natural shape, mimicking the color and translucency of enamel in turn creating a truly life-like result. Metal, on the other hand, can provide strength and reinforcement necessary for a tooth that takes on the forces of mastication (chewing). The most commonly used crown combines both porcelain and metal and are called porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns or PFM for short. A PFM crown has a porcelain outer layer under which is a substructure made from a combination of metals known as an alloy. The metals can be precious, semi-precious, or non-precious. A crown made predominantly from a precious metal such as gold could last the longest and be the strongest, but few people these days appreciate having a gold tooth. Because crowns completely cap the visible tooth, a PFM crown can be an excellent option to satisfy both your functional and aesthetic needs. Crowns made entirely of porcelain provide an even greater aesthetic value but have differing strength and durability characteristics. You may have heard all porcelain crowns referred to as (Zirconia, Emax, or Empress). The location of the particular tooth and the chewing forces it must withstand dictate the material used to make a crown. Our dentists will select the best material based on your particular dentition and aesthetic need.

How long will it take to complete the dental crown procedure?

dr crabtree and a dental assistant viewing dental crownPreparing and placing a crown usually involves two visits. During the first visit your tooth is trimmed and shaped to receive the crown; an impression of your tooth is then taken and a temporary crown is placed over the prepared tooth. The impression is sent to a registered dental laboratory for fabrication of a lifelike prosthesis. During the second visit your crown will be permanently cemented into place.

How do I care for my dental crown?

You can treat your crown as you would any tooth. It should feel quite natural. Brush your crown and floss between the adjacent teeth the same way you would any of your natural teeth. Attending regular dental visits for cleaning and examination will ensure that your crown is evaluated for a continuing seal and fit to maintain its function within your mouth.


dental lab technician working to create a dental crownA word about registered dental laboratories…

Dental prosthetics such as crowns, bridges, and dentures are fabricated from molds of your teeth in a registered dental laboratory. Dental laboratories that operate in the United States are required to be registered and the FDA regulates the materials that can be used in the fabrication of dental prosthetics. An increasing number of dental prostheses nationwide are outsourced for fabrication in overseas laboratories, most frequently in China. This can reduce the cost of crown and bridge fabrication to your dentist but can also have a significant impact on the quality of your dental prosthesis. Inappropriate materials and manufacturing processes can lead to such things as allergic reactions, infection and poor-quality prostheses. At Crabtree Dental, we choose to work with laboratories that operate exclusively in the United States. In fact, most of the laboratories we work with operate right here in the Houston metropolitan area. This way we can be confident in the workmanship and that the materials used in fabricating the prostheses we place are both biocompatible and durable. Communicating with a local laboratory also means the lab technician can be on hand during your appointment if your case is particularly complex. This ensures that accurate shaping and shade matching of your prosthetics can be done if necessary so we can achieve the optimal aesthetic effect.

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