Crowns & Caps


What Are Crowns?

A crown is a restoration that covers, or "caps," a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size, strengthening and improving the appearance of a tooth. Crowns are necessary when a tooth is generally broken down and fillings won't solve the problem. If a tooth is cracked, a crown holds the tooth together to seal the cracks so the damage doesn't get worse. Crowns are also used to support a large filling when there isn't enough of the tooth remaining, attach a bridge, protect weak teeth from fracturing, restore fractured teeth, or cover badly shaped or discolored teeth.

How is a crown placed?

To prepare the tooth for a crown, it is reduced so the crown can fit over it. An impression of teeth and gums is made and sent to the lab for the crown fabrication. A temporary crown is fitted over the tooth until the permanent crown is made. On the next visit, the dentist removes the temporary crown and cements the permanent crown onto the tooth.

Will it look natural?

Yes. The dentist's main goal is to create crowns that look like natural teeth. That is why dentists take an impression. To achieve a certain look, a number of factors are considered, such as the color, bite, shape, and length of your natural teeth. Any one of these factors alone can affect your appearance.

If you have a certain cosmetic look in mind for your crown, discuss it with your dentist at your initial visit. When the procedure is complete, your teeth will not only be stronger, but they may be more attractive.

Why crowns and not veneers?

Crowns require more tooth structure removal, hence, they cover more of the tooth than veneers. Crowns are stationary and are customarily indicated for teeth that have sustained significant loss of structure, or to replace missing teeth. Crowns may be placed on natural teeth or dental implants.

What is the difference between a cap and a crown?

There is no difference between a cap and a crown.

How long do crowns last?

Crowns should last approximately 5-8 years. However, with good oral hygiene and supervision most crowns will last for a much longer period of time. Some damaging habits like grinding your teeth, chewing ice, or fingernail biting may cause this period of time to decrease significantly.

How should I take care of my crowns?

To prevent damaging or fracturing the crowns, avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects. You also want to avoid teeth grinding. Besides visiting your dentist and brushing twice a day, cleaning between your teeth is vital with crowns. Floss or interdental cleaners (specially shaped brushes and sticks) are important tools to remove plaque from the crown area where the gum meets the tooth. Plaque in that area can cause dental decay and gum disease.

Crown Crazes: Are You a Candidate?

Yellow teeth, gum disease and tooth loss may conjure up images of aging, yet many people are unaware that as they age, they are more likely to develop crown crazes -- unsightly hairline cracks in tooth enamel, reports the Academy of General Dentistry.  Crown craze candidates are usually in their mid-thirties. Years of wear and tear and bad chewing habits creates extra pressure and cause crazes to form, especially in teeth with older, large fillings. This condition develops over time, happens to all teeth, but crazes are more apparent on the front upper teeth, where staining is more likely, as a thin brown line. It's not just a cosmetic problem. If the craze is deep enough in the enamel, the tooth may develop some sensitivity, or a molar cusp can break when extra pressure is exerted. To avoid forming crazes that may instigate dental accidents stop chewing on popcorn kernels, hard candy, ice cubes or chocolate chips. "It's quite common to develop a craze when repeatedly chewing hard objects."

Many patients are not aware of this problem until the dentist points it out with a mirror or intra-oral camera. To test patients, the dentist has the patient bite on the tooth or use an instrument that can isolate which area causes pain.  If the craze does not cause discomfort or pain, the dentist will monitor the tooth at each dental visit and have the patient keep a watchful eye on the tooth and report changes. If the crack goes to the inner surface the patient may consider a crown in order to restore tooth strength.

What happens during a crown preparation procedure?

Crowns usually requires two appointments for preparation and placement. First the tooth is prepared and an impression is taken.  Then the impression is sent to a dental laboratory to custom make a crown. While a waiting for the crown fabrication, a temporary crown is placed to protect the tooth. For tooth preparation appointment local anesthesia injection is required and the numbness may last approximately two hours.  Avoid chewing gum or sticky food until your next appointment.  Brush gently, and do not floss vigorously or the temporary crown may become loose. The prepared tooth and gum may be sensitive. The gum sensitivity will subside faster with frequent warm salt water rinses. If the temporary crown is lost, please call our office at Tel: 604-985-7032, to have it replaced or recemented.

During the cement appointment, the final crown is placed and checked for the precision of fit, tight contacts, colour match, and correct bite. When everything is satisfactory, the crown is cemented with permanent cement.  Avoid eating sticky food for 4-5 hours , while the final cement is setting and achieving its maximum hardness.  The tooth may remain sensitive for a few days , depending on the type of permanent cement used.  However, it will subside within a few days.  If the sensitivity persist, changed to pain in biting, the crown may require further bite adjustment.  We usually  arrange a third short appointment in a week, to check and correct excessive bite, cement overhange, etc.  A successful crown should feel and treated like a normal tooth.