Dental Crowns, Dental Caps, Tooth Crowns In Chipping Barnet | Zental

In some cases, where a tooth has had a lot of wear and tear, fillings or root canal surgery, your dentist might recommend protecting the fragile tooth using a dental crown to prevent it from breaking. Crowns are also used for cosmetic purposes. If this is a new experience for you, don’t worry! Our team at Zental are here to answer your frequently asked questions.

What is a crown exactly?

A dental ‘crown’ (also known as a ‘cap’) is a protective shell that is fitted and fixed over you existing tooth. It usually covers the tooth completely to protect it from breakage. It can even look like a natural tooth if you request a type that is color matched to your neighboring teeth.

When do I need a crown?

Dental crowns are most commonly used in the following cases:

  • When teeth are significantly broken down and where restoring them with a conventional restoration (filling) is either not possible or is not adequate enough to maintain the integrity of the tooth.
  • For teeth which may not be broken but which are very heavily restored with large fillings and where there is significant risk of the tooth breaking if it not adequately protected.
  • For back teeth which have had root canal treatment which renders the tooth a lot weaker and highly susceptible to breakage – in such cases crowns are strongly recommended to prevent these teeth from breaking.
  • For teeth that have significant cracks to stop them from worsening and to reduce the pain.
  • For highly discoloured teeth where other conservative means of improving the cosmetics of these teeth (ie tooth whitening, veneers, restorations etc) has not worked.

What materials are crowns made from?

Crowns can either be tooth coloured or non-tooth coloured. Tooth coloured crowns are usually made from Zirconia, porcelain (with metal on the inside), lithium silicate or a combination of these materials. Non tooth coloured Crowns are usually made from metal which can be Gold or non precious metals.

Can I match a crown to the colour of my existing teeth?

Yes your crown can be matched to whatever colour is required. How good the match will be depends on which material is used, the quality of the crown used and how skillful the technician is. With the best quality crowns in the most experienced hands, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a crown and a natural tooth. At Zental, we only use the finest London based labs for our crowns.

Will my crown look unnatural over time?

Not al all. In the right hands and with the right choice of materials and a good quality lab, we can make the crown look like the adjacent tooth. At Zental, we use the highest quality materials and only hire highly experienced dentists and technicians that have a long track record of achieving the best quality results for the most discerning of our patients.

How is a crown retained onto the tooth?

Since crowns cover the entire tooth, they are retained mechanically by the presence of sufficient tooth height that it covers. The more natural tooth that remains the better this mechanical retention will be. The crowns are cemented onto the tooth and this also provides some retention. In cases where there is sufficient tooth height for a crown, it is mainly retained mechanically with the cement having limited effect. When insufficient tooth height remains, then the mechanical retention afforded to crowns is limited and so in such cases the crown relies on the adhesiveness and strength of the cement to hold it in place.

Why do some people have crowns that stay on for years whilst others have crowns that come off sooner?

Assuming the crowns have been fitted correctly, the answer to this question boils down to how much natural tooth was remaining prior to the crown being in place and consequently how much the crown is retained mechanically to the tooth. The more the mechanical retention, the harder it will be for the crown to dislodge. The more the crown relies on the adhesiveness of the cement to hold it in, the higher the risk of the crown being dislodged more often.

Does fitting a crown mean my tooth is protected from tooth decay?

No. A crown is merely a shell that fits over your existing tooth in order to protect it from future fracture. The tooth below the crown can become decayed just as easily if not more so prior to the crown being fitted. Whether the tooth then becomes decayed in future is dependent on one’s susceptibility to tooth decay, how well they keep it clean and how much sugar is consumed in one’s diet.

Why are some crowns significantly cheaper than others?

Like with anything, price is governed by the quality and hence cost of the material used, the experience of the technician and lab, the experience of the dentist and the degree of cosmetic enhancement you require. The better the quality of the crown one requires, the more expensive the crown will be in some cases. At Zental, we believe in working to an exceptional standard that makes our cost very reasonable relative to the quality of work we provide.

What are onlays and how do they differ from crowns?

An onlay is a type of partial crown that mainly covers the biting surface of the tooth and then only as much or little of the rest of the tooth as necessary. It is similar to a crown in that it covers the biting surface to protect it from fracture but is different in that is does not encapsulate the entire tooth like a crown does. An onlay conserves more of the natural tooth structure as less space creation is needed and relies more on the adhesiveness of the cement holding it in. An onlay is ideal for when we wish to preserve as much of the healthy tooth structure as possible and where aesthetics are not a prime consideration.

Should I have a crown or an onlay?

Your dentist will advise you with the best option and this will be case as well as tooth specific. When deciding on the best option you have to decide which two of the following qualities you wish to have: ‘minimally invasive’, ‘maximum longevity’ or ‘maximum aesthetics’. Usually only two of these are possible but never all three as there is always a trade off. 

How much of my natural tooth is removed for a crown?

Since the crown encapsulates the tooth – it may require the removal of between 0.5-2mm of tooth structure all the way around the tooth/filling in order to create room for the crown to sit over the tooth. The amount of space needed is commonly determined by:

  • What material is used;
  • How aesthetically pleasing you wish it to look;
  • How much tooth is already present;
  • The bite;
  • The type of crown or onlay.

What risks are there with crowns?

There is a small risk that when a tooth is prepared for a crown that the nerve inside the tooth may get irrigated as a result of this preparation. There is an even smaller risk that this may result in the nerve ultimately dying in the future where the tooth may then require root canal treatment. The risk is even lower for an onlay as the preparation is much less than for a crown. Most teeth that are to be crowned or onlayed already have a long history of trauma and disease and so are already at risk of the nerve dying, so it is impossible to say whether if such happens it is due to the crown or whether it would have happened anyway.

Do you ever place crowns on healthy teeth?

There is no reason to cut down a healthy tooth and put a crown on it. If one wishes to have a cosmetic improvement to a particular tooth then there are far more conservative means of managing such cases and placing a crown in such instances is not recommended under normal circumstances.

How long will a crown last for?

This depends on how badly damaged the tooth was in the first instance, how well the crown is maintained and cleaned, the diet and how susceptible ones teeth are to decay/damage to name but a few reasons. Some peoples’ crowns have lasted in excess of 30 years whilst others have lasted only a couple of years – again depending the above factors amongst others.

If you think you would benefit from a crown or would like to learn more, contact us today for an assessment.

To contact us, please click here or call 0203 982 8602

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