Crowns are synthetic caps, usually made of a material like zirconia or lithium disilicate which has the appearance of porcelain but are much less resistant to fracture. Gold is another material used to make a crown.
Crowns are typically used to restore a tooth's function and appearance. In most cases, crowns are recommended following a root canal or when decay in a tooth has become so advanced that large portions of the tooth must be removed.
Crowns are also used to attach bridges, cover implants, prevent a cracked tooth from becoming worse, or when an existing filling is in jeopardy of fracturing of becoming loose, or dislocated. Crowns also serve an esthetic use, and are applied when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance.
A tooth must be reduced in size to accommodate a crown. An impression is made of the prepped tooth and opposing bite which is sent to a special lab which manufactures a custom crown. In the meantime, a temporary crown is placed until the permanent crown is ready.
Crowns are sometimes confused with veneers, but they are quite different. Veneers do not provide full coverage like crowns do.
Caring For Your Crowns
With proper care, a good quality crown could last up to eight years or longer. It is very important to floss in the area of the crown to avoid excess plaque or collection of debris around the restoration.
Certain behaviors such as jaw clenching or bruxism (teeth grinding) significantly shorten the life of a crown. Moreover, eating brittle foods, ice or hard candy can compromise the adhesion of the crown, or even damage the crown.