A crown is a protective cap over a tooth that’s held in place by dental adhesive, or cement. Crowns are used to protect badly decayed or damaged teeth, to permanently restore teeth with large fillings, or to correct minor problems in natural teeth like spacing, irregular shape or severe discoloration.

They can be made from plastic, ceramic or metal alloys, or a combination of metal and ceramic to maximise strength and simulate the appearance of natural teeth.

Your dentist will advise you on the choice of material, and talk you through the procedure, which takes place over a series of three appointments.

Fitting a crown

In the first appointment, the dentist will take x-rays and conduct a thorough clinical examination. In the second appointment, you’ll usually be given a local anaesthetic so that the tooth you’re having crowned can be trimmed, to make space for the crown to be fitted. The dentist will then make a mould of the tooth, which is used to make the crown. The dentist will fit you with a temporary crown while your permanent crown is being made. In your third appointment, the dentist will remove the temporary crown and clean the tooth surfaces. The completed crown will then be tried for fit, harmony with the bite and appearance. Finally, the crown is cemented onto the prepared tooth with dental cement.

After your crown

Your crown won’t deteriorate over time, but the underlying tooth is still prone to decay and gum disease.

The most vulnerable portion of the crown is the margin or the junction between tooth and crown. To avoid chipping or fracturing the ceramic surface, you should avoid chewing very hard substances like ice or bones. Brushing your teeth and flossing daily will also help look after your crown, as well as maintaining

good oral health. Regular check-ups will allow your dentist to detect any problems with your crown and recommend necessary treatment.

A 3D rendering of a crown

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