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What is a dental crown procedure?

Dental Crowns

A dental crown is a fixed device that covers a damaged tooth or a dental implant with a tooth-shaped cap. Placing a dental crown is an outpatient procedure that restores the strength and function of a tooth and the appearance of your smile. The procedure involves taking a mold of a tooth that has been filed down to make a customized crown to fit the tooth. The crown is attached with permanent cement. 

Placing a dental crown, also called a cap, is generally considered safe, but there are risks and potential complications. It is only one method used to repair damaged teeth. Discuss all of your treatment options with your dentist to understand which options are right for you.  

Types of dental crowns

The types of crown that your dentist may use include:

  • Ceramic crowns are made of porcelain blended with other materials. Ceramic crowns are tooth-colored and generally not as durable as metal crowns. Metal crowns can be made of copper, gold, and other metals. 
  • Metal crowns are often used on back teeth because of the metal’s strength and durability. 
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are made of metal with tooth-colored porcelain laid over it. They are typically stronger than ceramic crowns, but the metal may become visible near the gums over time.

Other procedures that may be performed

You may need a root canal procedure if damage, decay or infection is deep enough to affect the pulp inside your tooth. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels and other tissues.

A root canal involves drilling into the tooth and removing the pulp. Your dentist cleans the root canal and fills it with a permanent inert material. Then the tooth is filled and covered with a temporary material until the crown is ready.

Medical Reviewers: Nicole Holland DDS, MS Last Review Date: Mar 4, 2013

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Medical References

  1. Cavities. Mouth Healthy by the American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/c/cavities.aspx. Accessed December 5, 2012.
  2. Crowns. Colgate Oral Health and Dental Resource Center. http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Checkups-a.... Accessed December 5, 2012.
  3. Crowns. Mouth Healthy by the American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/c/Crowns.aspx. Accessed December 5, 2012.
  4. Dental Crowns. The Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/cosmetic_dentistry/hic_dental_crowns.aspx. Accessed December 5, 2012.
  5. Tell Me More About Dental Crowns. Colgate Oral Health and Dental Resource Center. http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Checkups-a.... Accessed December 5, 2012.
  6. What are Dental Crowns and Tooth Bridges? Colgate Oral Health and Dental Resource Center. http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Checkups-a.... Accessed December 5, 2012.

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