Rebecca J. Stahl, MA
A dental crown is a cap that covers a damaged tooth. The crown makes the tooth stronger and also improves how the teeth look.
A dental crown may be needed if your tooth is broken, cracked,
decayed, worn down, or severely discolored. Crowns are also used to:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your dentist will review potential problems, like:
Talk to your dentist about these risks before the procedure.
It typically takes 2 visits to have a crown placed. Before these appointments, you and your dentist will decide which type of crown is best for you. Different materials are used to create permanent crowns, such as:
You will also have dental exams. The dentist will evaluate the health of your tooth's roots.
It is also important that you talk to your dentist if you take any medications, herbs, or supplements. You may need to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.
In addition, tell your dentist if you have any heart conditions or joint replacements. You may need to take antibiotics to prevent infection.
Local anesthesia will be used.
The area surrounding the tooth will be numbed, usually by injecting a local anesthetic into the gum. Next, the tooth will be prepared for the crown. The surfaces will need to be filed down. If you are missing part of the tooth, material may need to be added to the tooth so that the crown can be placed. This filling material is called a crown buildup.
Impressions will be made of your tooth and the surrounding teeth. This is to make sure that the new crown will not impact your bite. The impressions will be sent to a dental lab where the crown will be made. If you are planning to have a porcelain crown, the dentist will help you select a shade that looks like your natural tooth color. Finally, your tooth will be protected by placing a temporary crown on it. The permanent crown should be ready in 2-3 weeks.
A newer technique involves digital technology where a permanent crown can be made in the office in an 1-2 hours.
During the second visit, the dentist will numb the area again. The temporary crown will be removed. Cement will be used to secure the new crown in place.
You will need to have about 2 visits over the course of several weeks. Each visit may last about 30-60 minutes.
You may have some pain when the local anesthetic is injected. After the procedure, you may have discomfort or sensitivity around your tooth.
You will be able to go home after the procedure.
When you return home:
With the proper care, a crown can last for 5-15 years.
Call your dentist if:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry
Mouth Heatlhy—American Dental Association
Canadian Academy for Esthetic Dentistry
Canadian Dental Association
Brushing your teeth. American Dental Association Mouth Healthy website. Available at:
http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth. Accessed February 15, 2016.
Dental crowns. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at:
http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments_and_procedures/hic_Dental_Crowns. Updated March 10, 2015. Accessed February 15, 2016.
Dental crowns. Dentists website. Available at:
http://www.dentists.org/go/dental-crowns/article/dental-crowns.html. Accessed February 15, 2016..
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
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