A dental crown is a full coverage restoration which is used to strengthen a tooth that has become weakened by large fillings, severe decay, cracks, or teeth that have undergone root canal therapy. Crowns can also be placed to improve the appearance of teeth that are out of alignment or misshapen.
In order to make a crown, Dr. Bailey needs to remove approximately 1 mm of tooth around the outside and 1-2 mm on the biting surface of your tooth. This makes room for the new crown to be placed over your existing tooth and still be the proper size. An impression (mold) of your mouth is taken and a temporary crown is placed until you return for your next appointment. The impression is sent to a dental lab where a dental technician constructs your crown. Each crown is hand made and custom fit for your specific tooth.
Dental crowns or "Caps" can be fabricated from a variety of materials; each has their own advantages and disadvantages.
Gold crowns are the most conservative type of crown; they require very little removal of tooth structure and hold up extremely well to biting and grinding forces. Gold crowns generally last longer than other types of crowns. The only drawback to a gold crown is the appearance. Gold crowns are an excellent choice for the back molars.
Porcelain Fused to Metal (PFM) crowns have been the go to crown option for many years when patients seek strength and beauty. The crown has a metal base for strength with porcelain stacked on top for a natural appearance. These crowns can be used on any tooth in the mouth.
All porcelain crowns are the most natural looking. In the past, they were only used on front teeth because they were not strong enough to withstand the biting forces in the back of the mouth. In recent years, advances have been made to improve the strength of the porcelain. This allows us to use these natural looking crowns on any tooth.
A Bridge is one option available to replace one or more missing teeth. In order for a bridge to be an option the patient needs to have a strong natural tooth in front and behind the missing tooth or teeth. A bridge is essentially multiple crowns linked together which are cemented over your existing teeth.
An appointment for a bridge is similar to a crown but involves more teeth. The same material options are also available. Before implants were available, bridges were the best option to replace a missing tooth. The main downfall to a bridge is the difficulty in keeping it clean. If proper home care is not followed, you can get a cavity under the bridge, and if one of the teeth supporting the bridge fails, the entire bridge will need to be replaced. However, if proper home care is maintained routinely, a bridge can last a very long time.