How is a Crown Put on a Tooth? A Step-by-Step Guide

Getting a dental crown is a common procedure recommended by dentists to restore and protect damaged or worn teeth. A crown, sometimes called a dental cap, is a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth to cover it. Crowns are typically made of ceramic, metal, or a combination of both materials. The purpose of a crown is to strengthen the damaged tooth, improve its shape and appearance, and protect it from further damage. Crowns can be used to repair teeth that are cracked, chipped, misshapen, have large cavities, or have had root canal therapy. If your dentist recommends a crown for your tooth, it means part of the original tooth structure is missing or compromised. The crown will restore the tooth’s shape, function, and integrity. Knowing how a crown is put on a tooth will help you understand the step-by-step process of getting a dental crown placement.

Assessing the Need for a Dental Crown 

If you are wondering how a crown is put on a tooth, it likely means your dentist has assessed that a crown would benefit one of your teeth. But how do dentists determine if a tooth needs a crown? There are several reasons why a dentist may recommend getting a crown placed on a tooth:

Large cavities – If a cavity is very large, there may not be enough natural tooth left to support a filling. A crown caps the entire tooth for protection.

Cracked or broken teeth – Cracks or fractures weaken the tooth structure. Crowns repair damaged teeth and prevent further cracking.

Worn-down teeth – Years of grinding or acid wear can cause teeth to become smaller, thinner and more transparent. Crowns restore the size, shape and function.

Root canal therapy – After a root canal, a tooth is more brittle and prone to cracking or breaking. A crown helps protect the tooth.

Misshapen teeth – Crowns can reshape teeth that are oddly shaped, crooked or have uneven surfaces.

Tooth implants – Dental crowns sit on top of implants to provide an aesthetically-pleasing and natural-feeling artificial tooth.

If your tooth displays any of these conditions, getting a crown placed on the tooth may be recommended. The crown procedure restores strength, function and integrity to damaged teeth.

Preparing the Tooth for Crown Placement

Once the need for a dental crown has been established through a comprehensive assessment, the next crucial step is preparing the tooth for the crown placement procedure. The dentist initiates this process by meticulously removing any decayed or damaged tooth structure. The goal is to create a stable foundation for the crown, ensuring optimal fit and longevity. To guarantee patient comfort during this procedure, local anesthesia is administered to numb the affected area. This step not only minimizes any potential discomfort but also enables the dentist to work with precision. The removal of decayed portions is a delicate yet essential phase, laying the groundwork for the successful placement of the dental crown. This careful preparation ensures that the final restoration seamlessly integrates with the natural tooth, providing both functional and aesthetic benefits.

Tooth Impressions and Shade Matching

After the tooth is prepared, the dentist will take an impression to capture the exact size and shape of the prepared tooth. Using either traditional impression materials or cutting-edge digital scanning technology, the dentist captures detailed images of the tooth’s unique contours. These impressions or scans serve as the foundation for crafting a crown that not only fits snugly but also aligns flawlessly with the patient’s natural dentition. The meticulousness of this step ensures optimal comfort and functionality, minimizing any potential issues related to the crown’s fit or bite alignment.

Equally essential in achieving a natural and aesthetically pleasing result is the art of shade matching. Collaborating closely with the patient, the dentist selects the perfect shade for the crown by considering factors such as tooth color, translucency, and surface texture. This attention to detail is pivotal for seamlessly blending the crown with the surrounding natural teeth. Whether utilizing shade guides or digital imaging, the goal is to create a restoration that is virtually indistinguishable from the adjacent teeth. The combined precision of impressions and thoughtful shade matching underscores the commitment to delivering not only a functionally sound crown but also one that enhances the overall beauty of the patient’s smile.

The Temporary Crown

While you wait for your permanent crown, which can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, a temporary crown will be placed on your prepared tooth to protect it. The temporary crown, often made from acrylic or resin, maintains the tooth’s structure and shields it from potential damage or sensitivity.

Thanks to advances in dental technology, some dentists can now offer same-day crowns with computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM). With CAD/CAM, the dentist can digitally scan the prepared tooth and use milling technology to create the permanent crown right in the office. This eliminates the need for temporary crowns and lengthy offsite laboratory work. The custom-milled crown is made from a solid block of ceramic or composite resin material. It is then polished, stained to match tooth color, and bonded to the prepared tooth all in the same day. Same-day crowns with CAD/CAM allow patients to get their permanent dental restoration placed in a single appointment. However, this technology is not yet universally available. Many dental offices still rely on outside labs and temporary crowns during the crown creation process.

Permanent Crown Fabrication

Crafting a permanent dental crown involves a meticulous process carried out in a dental laboratory, showcasing the synergy of advanced technology and top-tier materials. Once the impressions or scans are obtained, the digital or traditional mold is sent to the dental lab where skilled technicians leverage computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) technologies. CAD/CAM systems employ 3D imaging to create a virtual model of the crown, allowing for precise customization. The chosen material, such as ceramic or porcelain, is then meticulously shaped to match the unique specifications of the patient’s tooth. This process ensures a precise fit, optimal functionality, and a natural appearance. While traditional crown fabrication methods may take a couple of weeks, in-office CAD/CAM technology expedites the process significantly, allowing for same-day crown placement. The use of cutting-edge technology not only streamlines the timeline but also enhances the overall precision and efficiency of permanent crown fabrication.

Final crown Placement

The culmination of the dental crown journey is the delivery of the final crown, where precision and attention to detail take center stage. The process begins with the removal of the temporary crown, making way for the permanent one. The dentist carefully assesses the fit and alignment of the newly crafted crown, ensuring it seamlessly integrates with the prepared tooth. To secure the crown permanently to the prepared tooth, a specialized resin cement is applied, forming a durable bond that ensures long-lasting stability and natural integration. Meticulous adjustments are then made to guarantee a proper bite, optimal functionality, and aesthetic harmony with the natural teeth. The dentist fine-tunes the crown’s contours, making certain that it aligns flawlessly with the patient’s bite and feels comfortable. The final crown not only restores the tooth’s strength and functionality but also elevates the overall aesthetics of the patient’s smile, delivering a lasting and satisfying result.

And there you have it – the lowdown on how a crown is put on a tooth! If you find yourself wanting to know more, schedule a consultation with Dr. Rafael Morales at Smiles of Boca in Boca Raton, FL. As a seasoned dental professional, Dr. Morales can provide personalized insights, address your specific concerns, and guide you through the journey of getting a dental crown.

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