What is a crown?

Sometimes called a “cap,” a crown is often used when you have a tooth that is damaged but not lost. A crown restores the tooth’s shape, appearance, and function. You also may need a crown if you have a root canal, a large filling, or a broken tooth. A crown  is a hollow, artificial tooth used to cover a damaged or decayed tooth. The crown restores the tooth and protects it from further damage. Crowns can be used for:

  • Restoration of damaged, chipped, or cracked teeth
  • Cosmetic treatment of discoloured teeth
  • Restoration of misshapen teeth
  • Reinforcement of a root canal – treated tooth
  • Anchoring teeth for a dental bridge

A tooth that has been fixed with a crown looks and works very much like a natural tooth. It is prepared by your dentist, and usually requires 2 visits to complete.



Prevents loss of your natural tooth

Restoring strength and function of a weakened or damaged tooth, a crown can protect your tooth for many years.

Improves your smile

In addition to its restorative benefits, a crown can provide cosmetic improvement of discoloured, stained, misshapen teeth. Custom-made to fit your smile, your dental crown is made to your exact specifications in terms of shape, size, colour, and fit.

Lasts a long time

With proper care (including regular brushing and flossing as well as regular examinations and cleanings) permanent crowns can last between 15 and 30 years.

Simple procedure

The procedure for obtaining a custom-made crown is minimally invasive, quite straightforward, and does not require a great deal of time.

Little recovery time needed

Patients can resume normal oral hygiene routine immediately. It is recommended that patients stay away from hard or crunchy foods for the first few weeks, but then can resume regular eating.



Types of crowns

A crown can be made of acrylic, metal, porcelain, or porcelain-bonded-to-metal. Depending on which tooth needs a crown, your dentist will suggest a material, or combination of materials, that is right for you.

Metal crowns are made of gold. They generally last a long time and won’t chip or
break. They tend not to wear down your opposing natural teeth. However, the gold colour does not look natural, particularly on front teeth.
Composite crowns look natural. They won’t chip as easily as porcelain crowns, but they
tend to wear more quickly from chewing. Tooth brushing tends to remove the highly polished surface of composite crowns and this causes them to stain more easily.
Porcelain crowns look the most natural. They are more brittle than metal or composite
and may chip more easily. Because of this, they are not usually placed on back teeth.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns look natural and are stronger than porcelain or composite
crowns. They won’t chip as easily as porcelain or ceramic crowns. However, depending on their design, the metal may show if your gums are thin or shrink.



The procedure

Getting a crown is usually done in 2* visits.


First appointment

Your dentist will give you a local anesthetic to freeze the area. In order to make room for the crown, he or she will file down the tooth that is being restored.

An impression of the filed-down tooth and nearby teeth is taken. This impression is used to custom-make your final crown.
The crown is built using restorative material (material used for fillings) based on the impression. The final crown is made in the shape and colour of a natural tooth, to blend in with the rest of your mouth.

Until your final crown is ready, your dentist places a temporary crown over the tooth that needs to be restored. The temporary crown is made from an impression of your tooth before it was filed down. It protects your tooth until the final crown is ready. A temporary crown may not have the same shape and colour as a final crown.




Second appointment

About one week after your first visit, your dentist will remove the temporary crown and replace it with the final permanent one. Your dentist will check to make sure the crown is the right fit, shape, colour, and bite. Once it is ready, the dentist will cement the crown into place permanently.

*There are some instances, though, when your tooth may need special care (such as orthodontic, gum, or root canal treatment) in which case the procedure will require more than 2 visits.

Caring for your crown

Crowns are strong and generally last for about 10 years or longer if you take good care of them. Brush and floss your crown, just like you clean your natural teeth. Crowns are strong but may not be as strong as your natural teeth. Avoid biting down on hard objects and, as with your natural teeth, never use them to open or cut things.