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Crowns (Caps)

A crown is also known as a cap.  It sits on the tooth as a protective cover to prevent a tooth from chipping or breaking when chewing.  A crown extends the life of the tooth.  Signs for the need of a crown are: large fillings, a tooth with a crack in it, teeth that are broken or have large chips where a filling would not hold, and teeth that have had root canals.  Crowns usually last 10-15-20 years or longer if properly maintained.

The crown takes 2 appointments.  During the first appointment (crown prep), we take an impression of the tooth and prepare the tooth to allow room for the crown.  Preparing the tooth actually means cutting about 10% off the top of the tooth so the crown can sit down on the tooth without being too high or too big.  Then the doctor will make a temporary crown, which the patient wears on this tooth while the lab makes the permanent crown.  The lab uses the impression to make the crown the exact size and shape for the patient.

The temporary is tooth colored and is temporarily cemented onto the tooth.  It does not fit, or look, like a crown.  The patient may have some sensitivity to cold and/or sweets, or the gums around the temporary may hurt.  Warm saltwater rinses helps with the mild discomfort.  The patient can eat but is warned to stay away from very sticky or extra hard foods (gum, caramel, candied apples, etc.).  These foods may pull the temporary off or crack it.  The temporary crown is like a ”Band-aid” and is only there to protect the tooth underneath. If the temporary crown comes off, the patient should come back in the office to have it re-cemented.  The patient should brush as usual but should floss carefully.

On the second appointment the temporary crown is removed and the permanent crown is permanently cemented onto the tooth.  The gums will heal and sensitivity will vary with each patient.  The patient should call the dentist if there is a question about sensitivity.