Your tooth might need a crown in a variety of situations. A broken tooth, a cracked tooth, a tooth with a large filling that has gone bad, a tooth that has had a root canal in the past—these are just some of the reasons that your tooth might need a dental crown.
What is a crown?
A dental crown is a fake tooth that goes right on top of your real tooth. Your dentist at AZ Dentist will take all of the bad spots, decay, and fractures out of your real tooth. Then, they’ll place the crown on top of your real tooth.
When the procedure is complete, you may not know that it is even a fake tooth!
How does a crown tooth repair work?
The crown repair procedure starts by your dentist giving you medicine to numb your tooth. Then the dentist and her assistant will mark down the shade of white that your existing tooth is. This way, when the crown is made, it will match all your other teeth.
If your crown will be on a front tooth, the dentist will likely offer a bleaching treatment to you, as well. A finished crown will not change color with bleaching; only natural teeth can be bleached. Because of this, if you want whiter teeth, the time to do it will be before you get a crown on your front tooth!
Next, an impression is made of the tooth that will be crowned. Putty material is placed in a tray, and inserted into your mouth for you to bite. A dent is made in the putty in the exact shape of your tooth. This is important so that a temporary crown can be made for you at the end of the visit.
Does getting a crown hurt?
Your dentist will remove all the bad spots, decay, and fractures from your tooth. They may need to “build up” your tooth at this point, especially if there is not much tooth structure remaining.
However, during this procedure, your affected tooth will be numb. When your tooth is numb, all you may feel is pressing. You will not feel any pain, or any cold sensations. And likely, you will not even feel pressing.
Cleaning and bonding the tooth
The tooth is first cleaned with a blue gel. It is placed on the tooth for 30 seconds. It is then rinsed off.
At AZ Dentist, we put a special medicated treatment called “desensitizer” on the tooth. This is a clear liquid that is air dried by the dentist. The desensitizer medication helps the nerve of the tooth hurt less later.
After, a bonding agent is painted on the tooth. Once it is exposed to a special UV light, this bonding material will be able to bond to the tooth at the microscopic level. This is so the “build up” material – the next application of material during the procedure – is also bonded to the tooth. This “build up” material is a white liquid or semi-solid plastic that is hardened by the special UV light.
Preparing your tooth for the dental crown
After this, the dentist will shape your tooth—around and on top—with exact measurements. This is done with a diamond-encrusted instrument. There needs to be enough space made for the material that the crown will be made from. For example, if the crown is made from gold, there needs to be .5 mm of space. If the crown is made from zirconium and porcelain, there needs to be 1.5 mm of space.
At AZ Dentist, we will never use a base metal crown or a porcelain-fused to a base metal crown. Further, we will discuss your crown options beforehand to make certain you are happy with the materials that are chosen for your dental crown.
Once the preparation of the tooth for the crown is complete, something called retraction cord may be placed around your tooth, under your gumline. This is a string that has a special medicine embedded in it. The medicine in the cord, and the cord itself, work to move the gums out of the way. This makes space in between the gums and the prepared tooth for the next step.
Taking a final impression
The third step is a final impression. Two kinds of impression material are used. One is very liquid-like and one has a putty consistency. Both are made from a plastic-type material.
The retraction cord is removed from around the tooth, allowing the liquid plastic impression material to flow in between the gums and the tooth. It is important for the liquid-like plastic to flow over the very edge of where the tooth has been prepared, 360 degrees around the tooth.
There cannot be a bubble in the material here, or any area of the tooth that does not have the liquid-like plastic on it. A perfect impression is necessary so that the final crown seals the prepared tooth with not even the tiniest gap.
Once the liquid-like impression material is over your tooth and gums and between the prepared tooth and gums, the putty impression material is placed in a tray and then placed on top of your tooth. You will be asked to bite down while the impression material sets. Because the liquid and putty are made from the same materials, when the putty comes into contact with the liquid-like material, they bond together to make one cohesive impression.
Double-checking our work
As soon as the material sets, the dentist will look at the impression, assuring herself that it has been done perfectly and the margin has been captured 360 degrees around the tooth with no mistakes.
Sometimes the dentist will even use a magnifying glass to make certain that the impression is perfect. If it is not perfect, it will be re-taken. Note that if you move during the impression, or try and talk, sometimes it can affect the impression. If there is a bubble in the material, it can also make it so the impression is not perfect.
Usually, however, it is perfect the first time. At AZ dentist we have a lot of practice with final impressions.
This final impression is sent out to a dental laboratory. They will pour dental stone, similar to plaster of Paris but harder, into the impression to make an exact model of your prepared tooth. Then, they will make a crown right on that model. This final crown will fit in your mouth, and on your tooth, perfectly.
Creating the temporary crown
At this point, the temporary dental crown is made from an acrylic material. The dentist or dental assistant will put acrylic into the first putty impression that was made of your tooth. Then that impression will be placed in your mouth, and the acrylic will flow around the prepared tooth. This makes a white temporary crown in the shape of your old tooth.
When this acrylic hardens, it is removed from your mouth and shaped more. It is custom-fit, so that you can bite without discomfort. A temporary cement containing clove oil will also be used to soothe your tooth.
You will wear the temporary crown for about two weeks (about how long it takes the lab to make a permanent crown). During this time, do not floss the area. Temporary cement is just that—temporary. You may accidentally pull the temporary crown off if you floss. However, you may brush your teeth and eat normally during the two-week period, with the exception of avoiding anything very sticky and chewy (like taffy or caramels).
Seating the final permanent dental crown
When you come back to AZ Dentist for your final dental crown, we’ll remove your temporary crown and clean your tooth. The permanent crown will be tried in, and adjusted. The dentist will check the crown, 360 degrees around the tooth to make certain that:
- There are no areas of the margin that are exposed
- The crown is sitting directly on the margin 360 degrees around the tooth
The crown will be x-rayed before anything further is done, to make certain the crown has sealed the margin of the tooth, and that there are no open areas. If the x-ray is perfect, final cementation of the crown will be done.
Preparing for final cementation
For this last step, the crown will be taken off of your tooth, and your tooth will be dried and isolated from your cheek and tongue. Further, if you have experienced sensitivity, you may have desensitizor applied again to your tooth.
If you have a gold crown, we’ll use gold-specific cement. If you have a zirconium or porcelain crown, a different type of cement will be used. The crown will be cemented, and you will be asked to bite on a cotton roll if you have the non-metal type crown. We’ll remove the excess cement after it has hardened just a little bit. Then, the dentist will floss around the crown while the assistant holds the crown in place.
If you have a gold crown, the excess cement will be quickly wiped away, and the margin of the crown will be burnished to your tooth .
Another X-ray will be taken to make certain that:
- The dental crown is seated correctly
- It’s all sealed to your tooth
- There are no open margin areas
Your bite will be checked to make certain it feels normal to you. If you are happy and everything feels normal, your visit is finished, and you have a new crown! If you’re interested in getting a dental crown, contact AZ Dentist today by clicking the button below or calling us at