Compared to fillings which cover a small portion of a tooth, a crown (or cap) covers the entire visible portion of a tooth. In effect, the crown becomes the new outer surface of the tooth. A crown is placed when a tooth is broken or decayed to such an extent that a filling is unable to repair the problem. A crown is able to provide a protective shell around the damaged or decayed tooth to strengthen it as well as improve the appearance of the tooth. Crowns restore teeth to there original shape and are commonly placed on teeth that have broken. While crowns can be made from different materials (eg. gold, zirconia, porcelain), most commonly patients prefer crowns that have porcelain which closely resembles natural tooth structure.
How it's done
The first visit involves preparing (reshaping) the tooth and taking impressions to create the crown. Typically a portion of your tooth will have to be removed for the crown to fit properly. After your tooth has been prepared for a crown an impression will be taken of the tooth. The impression will be sent to a dental laboratory along with a lab prescription instructing the lab to construct a crown to fit your prepared tooth. Before sending you home, I will provide you with a temporary crown to cover your tooth in between visits. Typically there is a 2 week wait between visits while the crown is being constructed at the lab.
When you return I will have received the permanent crown from the laboratory. The temporary crown will be removed and the permanent crown will be tried in and evaluated for shade, fit, and contour. I will also make sure you can bite properly with the new crown. After all the checks have been completed the crown will be bonded (cemented) to your tooth.