A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap that is permanently cemented over a tooth, in order to restore the tooth's strength, shape, and size, and improve its appearance. The crown will cover the visible portion of the tooth above and right at the gum line, once it is cemented into place.
Crowns are used to hold weak, broken, or cracked teeth together to avoid further fracturing. Crowns are also used to support large fillings, attach a bridge, or cover discolored or deformed teeth. Crowns may also be placed over dental implants.
The dentist usually requires two dental visits to install a crown. First, the dentist needs to prepare the tooth or implant for the crown. The dentist will grind and shape the tooth so that the crown can be fitted over it. Then, the dentist makes an impression of the tooth and surrounding gums, which is then sent to a dental laboratory so that the crown can be created. The dentist fits a temporary crown over the tooth until the permanent crown is ready. During the second visit, the dentist will remove the temporary crown and cement the finished permanent crown onto the tooth.
Crowns generally last about five to eight years, and with good oral hygiene most crowns last longer. Certain habits such as fingernail biting, chewing ice, and grinding teeth can do damage to the crown and should be avoided.