Optimally Functional & Aesthetic Crowns
Usually crafted from tooth-colored porcelain (ceramic), dental crowns have long been a standard in restorative dental care, and now are often used in aesthetic dentistry. Crowns can repair a tooth with a large, failing filling; a large cavity; a deep crack; crazing (a web of surface cracks); or a break. In addition, crowns are also applied to hold a bridge securely and permanently in place, and to protect a tooth following root canal therapy. In aesthetic dentistry, crowns can be applied to hide stains, to reshape a malformed tooth, or to close spaces between teeth.
Materials Used for Crowns
In previous generations, crowns were often made of precious metals, such as gold and silver. Today, we have dental materials that mimic the natural look of tooth enamel, while providing a strength and durability that rivals metal. Dr. Lopez prefers to use porcelain crowns on the teeth that show when a person smiles. Tinted to match adjacent teeth, porcelain crowns offer reflectivity similar to tooth enamel, so they truly look natural.
In some cases, porcelain fused to metal (PFM) crowns are the best option. PFMs offer a natural white beauty, while providing a layer of underlying metal to increase durability. If a patient prefers metal-free crowns, Dr. Lopez may suggest a zirconia dental crown, which can also be layered with porcelain. This will provide aesthetics as well as increased durability.
Dental crowns address four characteristics of teeth: structural integrity, shape, health, and appearance.
Crowns that Function Well
First, crowns restore structural integrity to a tooth by covering the entire chewing surface, as well as the front, back, and sides of the tooth. A crown does not extend to cover the entire tooth’s root. Second, crowns restore the shape of a tooth, which is not only of aesthetic importance, but also affects occlusion, or how upper and lower teeth fit together when the mouth is shut. When the surfaces of upper and lower teeth do not fit like puzzle pieces so that the jaw joints are held in proper position, many problems can result, including but not limited to bruxism (teeth grinding), tooth wear, cracks and crazing, and TMJ disorder. The third characteristic a crown restores is health. Whether the crown is sealing a cracked tooth against oral bacteria or covering an access opening required for root canal therapy, dental crowns protect teeth.
Crowns that Look Beautiful
As previously mentioned, Dr. Lopez appreciates aesthetics. He prefers to use all-ceramic crowns for front teeth, and PFMs or zirconia crowns for back teeth. Because metal dental work is blatantly obvious among natural, white teeth, patients with metal crowns are self-conscious about opening their mouths wide to laugh. If you are concerned about aesthetics, talk with Dr. Lopez about aesthetic dental crowns and other options that might suit your case, such as porcelain veneers or aesthetic bonding.
The earliest symptoms of needing a dental crown are oral pain, toothache, a failing filling, or injury, such as a crack or chip. If you need a dental bridge or root canal, you can also expect to have a crown (or crowns) placed. Also be aware that crowns can fail. If the seal between a crown and the underlying natural tooth structure is broken, bacteria may work their way into the space and decay the natural tooth. Patients in this situation will often notice a toothache on a crowned tooth, though in some cases, x-rays are the first evidence of a problem. Crowns can also crack or break if the patient vigorously or repeatedly bites or chews a very hard object, such as metal, fruit pits, or nut hulls. With proper care and ongoing good oral hygiene, crowns can last 10 to 15 years, depending on your habits.
To determine whether you need a crown, Dr. Lopez will ask about your symptoms, then conduct a thorough oral exam, including x-rays. He’ll review your dental records, as well. If you have a cavity too large for a filling to repair or a failing filling that needs to be replaced, a crown may be warranted.
Expect two clinical visits to complete your dental crown. At the first visit, after diagnosis and treatment selection, Dr. Lopez will prepare your tooth for a crown. This will involve removing some natural tooth structure. Also at the first visit, Dr. Lopez will take molds of your prepared tooth, surrounding teeth, and opposing teeth. The molds are used to create a form for your restoration. At a trusted American-based dental lab, your crown will be fabricated by a dental ceramist or technician. In the meantime, you’ll wear a temporary crown.
At the second visit, we’ll have your dental crown from the lab. Dr. Lopez will remove your temporary restoration and cement your final restoration in place. He’ll check your bite to make certain the new crown fits properly with opposing teeth. You’ll leave our dental office with a healthy, strong, beautiful dental crown and the confidence to eat comfortably and smile widely.
Whether you’re interested in improving your smile’s health or appearance, Dr. Lopez is honored to be your preferred dentist. Call our Tucson aesthetic dentist’s office today at (520) 886-8090 to schedule your comprehensive consultation. Dr. Lopez is also happy to offer second opinions, and we are accepting new patients now.