A great example of this artistry at work is a dental crown. A dental crown is a “cap” or covering applied to a damaged, decayed or otherwise unattractive tooth. When used in conjunction with dental bridgework, a crown can replace an entire tooth!
Unlike a dental veneer, which only covers a tooth’s front surface (and needs natural tooth material to support it) a crown covers a tooth completely above the gumline. If a tooth is missing significant structure above the gum, Dr. Leach recommends a crown as the restoration of choice.
Crowns strengthen damaged teeth. This allow teeth to function normally again. Crafted from modern, high-tech porcelain, a crown is virtually indistinguishable from the natural tooth, and can be used to improv the tooth’s original appearance.
At Steven Leach Dental, we have a variety of materials to build your crowns. In addition to the standard porcelain crown, Dr. Leach can use gold (for durability). PFM (Porcelain Fused to Metal), which combine a stong metal interior with a natural porceiln esterior, or a porcelain/zirconia crown, which is the strongest ceramic available. Dr. Leach is always happy to discuss the best options for your specific need.
Crowning or capping a tooth usually takes two or three visits. During the initial visit, the tooth is prepped for its crown. The first step in that process is shaping the tooth to fit inside its new shell. This involves some drilling (Dr. Leach will numb the tooth and surrounding area). If the tooth requires building up (as opposed to filed down) Dr. Leach will add filling material to support the new crown.
After preparation, Dr. Leach will take an impression of your teeth. At Steven Leach Dental, we can do digital impressions, or the tried and true putty impression. From there, the impressions go to the lab where they build models of your teeth. The lab technicians will use those models to design a great-fitting crown.
Before you leave that first visit, Dr. Leach will attach a temporary crown to protect the tooth while the lab builds your permanent crown. That permanent crown will be installed on your next visit. Dr. Leach will use a resin or cement to permanently attach the crown.
Crowns can also create a life-like replacement for a missing tooth. This is done via bridgework. Bridgework spans the space left by the missing tooth, and requires at least three crowns to keep it firmly in place. Two of these crowns will cover healthy teeth to either side of the missing tooth. These are called “abutment teeth.” They support the third crown, which is referred to as a “pontic.” If more that one tooth is missing, bridgework will require additional crowns between the abutment teeth.
Crowns and bridgework require the same care as your natural teeth. Be sure to brush and floss between all of your teeth — restored and natural — every day. When you have crowns, it is even more important to maintain your regular schedule of cleanings at Steven Leach Dental. Avoid using your teeth as tools (to open packages, for example). If you have a grinding habit, consider a nightguard to protect your teeth and your investment.