Dental crowns have many uses in restorative and cosmetic dentistry. Also called caps, these are shells that completely cover the visible part of teeth, protecting them from irritants in the mouth like bacteria and acids.
Issues that can be addressed with dental crowns include:
- Chipped, broken or fractured teeth
- Deformed teeth
- Gaps between teeth
- Short teeth
- Discolored teeth
How cosmetic dentists use dental crowns to enhance smiles
As we mentioned earlier, dental crowns can be used to improve the appearance of teeth and to restore their function. The installation of a crown often requires at least two visits to the dentist. During the first visit, the dentist evaluates the patient to determine if a crown is the right option for their tooth.
If the dentist decides to go with a crown, the patient’s teeth will be prepared for the restoration by shaving enamel off its sides. This creates a better fit with the crown. A shot of a local anesthetic is given to the patient before preparing the tooth. Once enamel has been removed, the process cannot be reversed. The patient will always need to have some sort of restoration protecting the tooth moving forward.
The dentist then takes an impression of the patient’s tooth by having them bite down on a mold. The mold is then sent to a lab that makes crowns. That process takes about two weeks. If CEREC equipment is available, the dentist can make the patient’s crown on-site.
The patient gets a temporary crown to protect their tooth and they are sent off on their way. The patient goes in for a second appointment when their custom crown is ready. The dentist takes off the temporary crown and installs the custom restoration. Any adjustments needed are made to complete the process.
Here’s how a dentist might use crowns to restore the appearance of a damaged tooth:
- Broken teeth: Chipped, fractured and broken teeth are some of the most common dental injuries. Minor damage to a tooth can be treated with composite resin, but more serious damage typically requires a crown. If the damage affects the tooth’s pulp chamber (the home of the tooth’s blood vessels and nerves), root canal therapy might be performed before covering up the tooth with a crown
- Missing teeth: Crowns are often combined with dental prosthetics like implants and bridges. The crown serves as the artificial tooth that is placed on an implant, and it serves as an anchor for a dental bridge. Implants are the closest thing to a real tooth as far as oral prosthetics are concerned
- Discolored teeth: Crowns can also be used to cover up teeth with discoloration. Teeth whitening treatments are the go-to solution for discolored teeth, but some stains – like those caused by tetracycline antibiotics – are not responsive to these treatments. Crowns can be used to hide such stains
- Spaces between teeth: Crowns are also used to close up spaces between teeth. This is done by fitting the two teeth closest to the gap with oversized crowns so the gap is closed