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A lot of value is placed on the appearance of the teeth. Everyone wants a beautiful white, Hollywood-like smile. In many cases, dental crowns at our La Jolla and Rancho Santa Fe offices can be used to conceal a discolored tooth and achieve the glamorous smile a patient desires. In fact, Dr. Weston Spencer has used a combination of dental crowns and porcelain veneers to produce some of his most stunningly transformative smile makeovers.
But dental crowns offer far more than just the possibility for dramatic aesthetic improvements. Dental crowns provide structural support for damaged or broken teeth while protecting them from further harm. Because of their versatility, dental crowns are among the most popular dental treatments at our San Diego practice and at dental practices throughout the country. This versatility allows them to restore function and health to the mouth while their remarkably natural appearance makes the smile whole again, bolstering the patient’s self-confidence.
Understanding Dental Crowns
The human tooth can be broken down into two basic areas: the roots that extend below the gum line, and the clinical crown that is the visible area above the gum line. When the tooth becomes damaged due to injury or extensive tooth decay, a dental crown is required to restore the appearance and function of the tooth.
The dental crown, sometimes referred to as a dental cap, is made of stainless steel, gold, or another alloy metal, porcelain fused to metal, or ceramic. In most cases, tooth-colored dental crowns are preferred by patients of our La Jolla and Rancho Santa Fe offices for their cosmetic appeal. These custom-crafted dental crowns are tailored to complement surrounding natural teeth in terms of size, shape, color, and even texture. Once a tooth-colored dental crown is attached to the prepared tooth, it is virtually indistinguishable from the adjacent natural teeth.
For patients who are missing teeth, dental crowns can also be attached to dental implants.
The Need for a Dental Crown
Patients can require a dental crown for a variety of reasons. It is common for a patient to require a crown if the tooth has a large filling or if the tooth is fractured because the crown provides structural support. If a patient undergoes root canal therapy, they will most often need a dental crown to protect the tooth from cracking because the tooth has been hollowed.
Other instances include patients who are prone to grinding their teeth, such as those with TMJ disorder, and those who experience excessive wear from acidic diets or gastrointestinal acid reflux. Dental crowns are often used in conjunction with dental implants to replace missing or extracted teeth so that the structural integrity and aesthetics of the teeth are maintained.
The Dental Crown Procedure
Prior to the placement of dental crowns at our La Jolla and Rancho Santa Fe offices, patients will be provided with local anesthesia to numb the surrounding area and affected nerves. The tooth is then prepared for the crown by reshaping the tooth to allow space for the crown. After the tooth is reshaped, an impression is made to create a model. The impression is sent to an off-site laboratory that will create the crown. Dr. Spencer will fit the existing structure with a temporary crown until the permanent crown arrives.
When it is ready, the patient will return for their second visit. The area will be numbed and Dr. Spencer will remove the temporary crown. The permanent crown will be placed to ensure it is a good fit and allows for a good bite. After any necessary adjustments are made, the crown will be cemented into place.
Caring for Your Dental Crowns
With proper care, dental crowns typically last between 10 to 20 years. Brushing and flossing the teeth regularly is essential to maintaining the health of the remaining natural tooth structure and the surrounding teeth. Although the dental crown is not a natural tooth, it is still subject to cavities and fractures. Extra care should be taken when brushing a crowned tooth to protect it from unnecessary wear. In some cases, Dr. Spencer may recommend a mouth guard to be worn at night to provide additional protection.
Learn More about Dental Crowns
Dental crowns are a potentially ideal treatment for a variety of practical and aesthetic reasons. Dental crowns restore not only function but also a person’s confidence in his or her smile. If you think that you might benefit from a dental crown, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Weston Spencer by contacting our cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice today.