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What is a tooth crown?

tooth crown (also known as a dental crown) is an artificial protective cap that is placed over a damaged or decaying tooth to strengthen it and resemble the shape of a natural tooth. When placed, your dental crown will cover and protect your tooth and generally improve its appearance.

How long do dental crowns last?

Dental crowns are expected to last up to 20 years, however, the condition of your oral health will impact the life of your dental crowns. Maintaining a healthy oral hygiene routine can make dental crowns last longer, however smoking, poor dieting, and bruxism (biting or grinding of the teeth).

How does a dental crown work?

Dental crowns (also known as caps) are used to cover damaged or chipped teeth and restore them to their original shape. Dental crowns are used if a filling isn’t enough to rectify and restore the damaged tooth or teeth.

Crowns are able to hold together parts of a cracked tooth or hold a bridge in place. The types of dental crowns have developed over time and some are now able to perfectly replicate the appearance of your natural teeth.

Patients are able to choose the type of crown they require, options may include:


  • Best for mimicking the natural appearance of a real tooth. Porcelain crowns are also an ideal alternative to patients who suffer with metal allergies. They are fairly durable and can be used to cap front and/or back teeth.

Stainless steel

  • This type of crown is commonly used to temporarily cover and protect a damaged tooth while a permanent crown is being made. This type of crown is used to prevent the threat of decay during the transition period. Stainless steel is a strong option for helping protect vulnerable teeth but is usually replaced with another material once your new crown has been created.

The steel crown is removed and replaced with your permanent crown after anywhere between two weeks to one month. Stainless steel is commonly used in children’s teeth as they are cost-effective and do not require multiple dental visits (custom-made crowns are more expensive and often require more visits). However, because metallic crowns are visible, they are best suited for molars positioned at the back of the mouth.

Gold crowns

  • Now one of the oldest crown types, gold is often combined with other metal alloys to increase its strength. Like metal crowns, gold crowns are typically used to replace molars at the back of the mouth.

Metal (titanium) crowns

  • Metal crowns are very durable and are able to resist decay and withstand chewing and biting and are considered the most durable. Although they are arguably the strongest option, metal crowns (and gold) are more expensive than the alternatives.

Porcelain and metal hybrids

  • This type of crown combines the durability of metal with the shell and appearance of a natural tooth. While this option is durable, it does not offer the strength of pure metal crowns. The biggest benefit of this crown type is it’s mimicry to a natural tooth. If you follow a healthy oral hygiene routine, your porcelain-metal crowns can last up to 20 years. However, there are cases where the metal of the crown may be seen, especially at the gum line and if your gums recede. Unlike full metal crowns, porcelain-metal are a good choice for front or back teeth, both for durability and aesthetics.

Resin crowns

  • Resin crowns are the least expensive type of crown. The reason being that they are not as durable as porcelain, metal or porcelain-metal. The type of dental implant you choose will affect the price. For example, porcelain crowns are more expensive than gold crowns, and gold crowns are more expensive than resin crowns.

Temporary crowns

  • Crowns that are used for temporarily capping and protecting a vulnerable or damaged tooth. These crowns can be made immediately and there is no turnover time. However, as the name suggests, they are not permanent. They are generally made from acrylic-based materials or stainless steel. Temporary crowns are typically worn for approximately two weeks to three weeks depending on the availability of your dentist and type of crown being made.

How is a dental crown fitted?

Having a dental crown fitted is typically painless and fast. An anesthetic is applied to numb the targeted area, then a dental drill and an abrasive bur is used to remove the top and side layers of your original tooth (to create space for the crown). Your dentist will then take an impression of your tooth, either by using a digital scanner or impression paste and this is sent to a laboratory for the crown to be made. Your new crown is then fitted using a special dental cement.

Your new dental crown

Your crown can take between two to three weeks to be made, but during this period, you will have a temporary crown placed over your tooth. Once your bespoke crown is ready for placement, your temporary crown will be removed and replaced with the permanent crown.

Does it hurt to get a dental crown?

Dental crown placement generally isn’t painful due to the target area being numbed. During the procedure, you shouldn’t feel much pain but you may experience some sensitivity post-procedure when the anesthetic has worn off.

If you do experience some minor discomfort, this can be alleviated with some painkillers your dentist will recommend.

Is a dental crown necessary?

A dental crown is necessary to fix the following problems:

  • To protect a weak tooth (one that is chipped, cracked or decaying)
  • To restore severely discoloured teeth
  • To restore parts of a broken or severely worn tooth
  • To support a tooth where there is little to no tooth left
  • To help support and hold a bridge in place

Dental crowns are also available to children who suffer from the following:

  • Teeth that have become so decayed a filling will not offer enough support
  • Children who cannot maintain proper oral hygiene routines – crowns can be used to protect their teeth from future decay

How to look after your temporary dental crown

Although you will only wear your temporary crown for up to three weeks, there are still some simple but important aftercare rules to follow.

  • When flossing, be extra careful when sliding the floss between your temporary crown.
  • Stay away from sticky and chewy food; chewing gum, peanut butter and chocolates, these have the potential to stick and pull on the crown.
  • Try to eat on the opposite side of your mouth (avoiding your temporary crown)
  • Avoid hard foods such as nuts, as the biting force may disrupt the positioning of your crown

What is dental crown lengthening?

In some cases, a patient’s tooth may be so badly damaged that it cannot support the new crown on its own. This is where dental crown lengthening is used. This process reduces the gum tissue and shaves down the bone of your tooth so more of the tooth is above the gum’s surface.

If a crown is fitted to a tooth that has poor structural integrity, it will likely break.

The procedure

Dental crown lengthening is a straightforward procedure and patients can expect to go home on the same day. How long your treatment takes depends on the severity of the treatment (how many teeth are being treated and the condition of the teeth). Once the local anesthetic is applied, your dentist will begin filing down your gum tissue, to make way for supporting your new crown. Your gums are then sutured back together.

The procedure is mostly painless but you can expect some discomfort after the procedure as the anesthetic wears off. Over-the-counter painkillers will help with the pain and you will be provided with a mouth rinser to help keep the area clean and promote faster healing.

How much do dental crowns cost?

The price of your procedure will depend on a number of factors, typically the type of crown selected and the number of crowns required.

At Hove Dental, our single tooth dental crown treatments start from £2,300. This covers the procedure, the crown, and all visits required.

Can dental crowns be replaced?

Yes, dental crowns can be replaced when they become discolored, no longer fit your gums, or have been otherwise damaged. If you have had your teeth whitened before your new crown was fitted, we can either replace the crown or whiten it.

Resources: www.hovedentalclinic.co.uk