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3150 North Elm Street, Suite 210
Greensboro, NC 27408

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Greensboro Dental Clinic, Dr. Margaret Szott

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July 24th, 2020

What is a Dental Crown?

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cover or “cap” the dentist cements over a prepared tooth that replicates the shape and size of a real tooth and can improve its strength and appearance. A crown covers the majority of the tooth structure above the gum line.  It can be made from stainless steel, precious or semi-precious metals, porcelain fused to metal, resin, or all porcelain.  

Why Is a Dental Crown Needed?

Large Filling
A crown may be placed to support a large filling when there is little healthy tooth remaining.   For example, every time you get a cavity in a tooth, the necessary filling becomes larger.  If a tooth has been filled multiple times, there is often very little tooth structure left to hold a filling.  As a result, there is a higher chance that filling will fail or that a tooth may break at a later time.

Weakened Tooth 
Crowns are also indicated if you have a tooth that is cracked, worn down, or otherwise weakened.  If a tooth breaks, it can do so in a way that requires a root canal prior to crown placement.   A dentist will often recommend a crown for teeth that are at risk for fracture to help prevent the need for more invasive treatments such as root canals.  

Root Canal Treatment
A root canal is completed when bacteria has infected the nerve and blood supply to the tooth.   During a root canal, a root canal specialist (endodontist) or a general dentist will remove the infected tissue (called the pulp) to clean the canal where it was contained.  The canal space is then sealed with a material called gutta percha to keep the canal system sterile.  Removal of the pulp tissue makes the tooth hollow, brittle, and susceptible to fracture.  With few exceptions, all root canal treated teeth require crown placement afterwards to prevent the tooth from fracturing and becoming non-restorable.   The crown wraps around the tooth and holds it together much like a cast holds together the bones of a broken arm or leg.   

Discolored or Badly Shaped Tooth
Sometimes teeth develop with funny shapes or discolorations.  Similarly, trauma can also cause a tooth to discolor.  Crowns are often used to cosmetically repair and cover these anomalies.  

How Is A Crown Made?
A small amount of structure must be removed from all surfaces of the tooth to be able to place a crown.  If a crown were placed on a tooth without preparation, the crown would be too large.  The amount of preparation matches the thickness of the material used to fabricate the crown.  Sometimes, impressions of the preparation are made and sent to a laboratory and the crown is made off site.  In the interim, an acrylic temporary crown is placed on the prepared tooth to maintain esthetics and function. You then return for a second visit to have the permanent crown cemented.

Many dentists now have the ability to digitally scan the prepared tooth and mill the permanent crown in the office while you wait.  This technique prevents the need for impressions, temporary crowns, or a second visit to seat the permanent crown.  Same day, in-office porcelain crowns are very strong and incredibly esthetic. 

Contact our office today if you have questions or think you need a crown. 

Where We Are Located

3150 North Elm Street
Suite 210
Greensboro, NC 27408
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