A crown is a covering (or 'cap') which is placed over a tooth and is a very common treatment in dentistry today. Crowns are placed when a tooth has a large portion that is decayed or fractured. The crown helps improve the strength and appearance of the tooth. Crowns can also be used to replace missing teeth when placed on an implant (link to implant page here). Crowns are generally made from a metal alloy covered in porcelain but can also be all metal as well as all porcelain/ceramic. A crown procedure generally takes a few visits with the dentist depending on how extensive the damage to the tooth is. In normal circumstances, it takes two visits with approximately 2 weeks in between each visit. A temporary crown will be placed while waiting for completion of the final crown.
What should I expect during a crown procedure?
You should expect your first crown visit to be 60-90 minutes. Prior to starting the crown preparation, the dentist will administer local anesthetic to the tooth and surrounding areas. The dentist will then excavate any decay and fill in the voids with a resin build up material. He will then prepare (shape) the tooth and make sure there is an adequate amount of room for a crown to be placed. An impression will be taken and will be sent off to a dental laboratory and they will fabricate the crown. A temporary crown will be placed and temporarily cemented. Two weeks or so are usually allotted for this process. At the second visit, the dentist will cement the finished crown into place. Prior to cementing the dentist will check the fit with an x-ray and make any necessary adjustments.
Crown procedures can vary from case to case. In cases of excessive caries on the tooth root the dentist may perform a gingivectomy (reducing the tissue around the tooth) or clinical crown lengthening (surgery which involves reducing the bone and tissue around the tooth) to allow more tooth structure for a crown to be placed. These procedures may add additional weeks before the final crown is placed to allow time for the tissue around the tooth to heal.