What are crowns?

Crowns rebuild teeth that are damaged, have large fillings or have been weakened by decay. Sometimes crowns are also used to improve the look of the front of the mouth. It fits over the remaining tooth after it’s prepared, restoring the natural shape of the original tooth.

What’s involved in having a crown made?

A crown’s custom-made to fit your tooth by skilled technicians in a dental lab. But before that happens, the tooth must first be prepared by the dentist by:

  • Reducing and shaping of the tooth to create a ‘core’
  • Taking an impression of the prepared tooth and adjacent teeth
  • Taking an impression of the opposite arch to show the lab how you bite together
  • The shade of teeth will be recorded so the technician can match it (in the case of a porcelain crown) to your existing teeth.

The impressions are then sent to the dental lab where they’re cast using a dental stone, which produces an exact replica of your teeth, including the prepared tooth.

How long does it take?

Prepping and fitting a crown usually takes two visits. One to prepare the tooth, make the impressions and match the shade, and another to fit the permanent crown. Tooth preparation normally takes around 45 minutes.

What are crowns made from?

Crowns are made from a wide variety of materials, including:

  • Gold Crowns – Gold or precious metal crowns are incredibly strong and hard wearing. They’re usually used in back teeth where they’re less visible.
  • Porcelain Bonded Crowns (PBC) – PBCs are tooth-coloured porcelains, built onto an inner layer of metal.
  • Porcelain Crowns – Porcelain crowns or porcelain jacket crowns (PJC’s) are constructed entirely from dental porcelain, which is a type of glass. They’re used mainly on front teeth but aren’t as strong as PBCs.
  • Zirconia Crowns – These tooth-coloured crowns and much stronger than the porcelain versions. They can be used on both front and back teeth.

Will the crown look different to my real teeth?

No. A crown is produced to replicate the tooth’s natural shape. It’ll be made of porcelain or have a layer of porcelain to match the shade of your original teeth.

Will it feel different?

The shape may differ slightly from the original tooth, particularly if it was badly decayed or broken. The new crown may feel strange for a few days but this feeling should soon go away. The crown shouldn’t feel high or uncomfortable but if you’re in any doubt please ask one of the dentists.

How long will the crown last?

It should last for many years, but it really depends on how well the it’s looked after. Although the crown can’t decay, the area where it meets the tooth can. Therefore, close attention to this area needs to be paid when cleaning your teeth.


Why would I need a crown?
Crowns are an ideal solution for teeth that have been broken or weakened by decay or a very large filling. It can also be used if:

  • You have discoloured fillings and would like to improve their appearance
  • You have had a root filling and need a crown to protect what’s left of the tooth
  • You need to hold your bridge or denture firmly in place.

What’s a post crown?
In root-filled teeth, it’s sometimes necessary to insert a post before placing the crown. A post gives support and helps the crown stay in place. The weakened crown of the tooth may be shortened to gum level.

A post can be made of prefabricated stainless steel, which the dentist fits directly into the root canal, or a custom-made post can be constructed by the dental technician to fit the shape of the prepared root canal. The post’s then placed into the root canal and cemented in position, ready for the crown to be attached.

Are there any alternatives to post crowns for root-filled teeth?
As long as a root-filled tooth isn’t completely broken down, it may be possible to build it up again using filling material. This ‘core’ is then prepared in the same way as a natural tooth and the impressions are taken.

What’ll happen between visits?
A temporary crown or filling will be placed so that you can use the tooth while you wait for the crown to be made. This crown may be more noticeable but it’s only temporary.

How’s the crown fitted?
When you and your dentist are happy with its fit and appearance, the new crown will be fixed with dental cement or adhesive, which seals and holds the crown in place.

How long does the treatment take?
You’ll need at least two visits. The first for preparation, impression, shade taking and fitting of the temporary crown and the second to fit the permanent crown. There’ll usually be 1 to 2 weeks in between appointments.

Does it hurt to have a tooth prepared for a crown?
No, you’ll have a local anaesthetic and the prep should feel no different to a filling. If the tooth doesn’t have a nerve and a post crown is being prepared, then you may not need a local anaesthetic.

What will it cost?
Costs vary according to the type of crown and material used. It’s advisable to get a written estimate and treatment plan before beginning any treatment.

How do I care for my crown?
How long your crown lasts depends on how well you look after it. The crown itself can’t decay, but decay can start where the edge of the crown joins the tooth. Therefore, it’s important to keep this area just as clean as you would your natural teeth. Brush for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and clean in between your teeth with interdental brushes or floss.

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