When a tooth is damaged beyond what fillings, dental bonding, or porcelain veneers can repair, a dental crown, also known as a dental cap, is often the best remedy. A dental crown, which often follows the removal of infected tooth pulp through a root canal, is a cap that fits over the entire surface of a damaged tooth, offering both cosmetic and restorative benefits.
Like veneers, dental crowns are often crafted from tooth-colored porcelain. However, while a veneer is applied only to the front surface of a tooth, a crown fits over the entire tooth. The dental crown process is typically completed in two visits to the cosmetic or restorative dentist's office. During the first visit, the dentist will ensure that all infected material is removed from the tooth. He or she then prepares the surface of the tooth to make room for the crown. Next, the dentist will take an impression of the damaged tooth, which will be sent to a dental laboratory where the dental crown will be crafted. As a final step to this visit, the dentist will fit the affected tooth with a temporary crown.
Once the customized crown returns from the dental lab, the patient returns to the dentist's office to have the crown permanently affixed to the damaged tooth. At this time, the dentist will also make minor adjustments to ensure that the crown lends the most optimal support to the tooth and closely matches surrounding teeth.
In addition to lending support and restoring functionality to a severely damaged tooth, a dental crown may also be used to anchor a dental bridge or as a replacement tooth atop a dental implant post.