What does Tooth Crown Mean?

A tooth crown is used when a tooth is so damaged that it can no longer be saved with an ordinary tooth filling. The so-called crowning is a popular and effective solution for restoring broken teeth or teeth affected by tooth decay.

  • A crown for a tooth is an artificial replacement for a natural tooth crown.
  • Which type of tooth crown is suitable depends in particular on the position of the affected tooth and the degree of damage.
  • A tooth crown made of metal has a comparatively high break resistance, whereas a ceramic crown has a more attractive appearance.
  • How long a crown lasts depends largely on the material used and the patient’s oral hygiene.

What is a tooth crown?

A dental crown is a type of fixed denture and is used to restore larger parts of a tooth. The dentist puts the crown over the remaining part of the defective tooth like a hat. The replica gives it back its original appearance. Apart from the aesthetics, the crown also makes it possible to speak and chew (again) without any problems.

However, there is one elementary requirement for a tooth crown: there must be a firmly anchored tooth root. On the other hand, it does not matter whether it comes from the original tooth or whether it is an implanted tooth root.

Dental crown: what types are there?

There are several ways to classify the different types of dental crowns. The different crowns can be categorized based on these criteria:

  • Function
  • Size and extent
  • Used material
  • Type of anchoring

Classification of dental crowns according to their function

Crowns serve different purposes depending on the condition of the affected tooth.

  • A replacement crown is the standard version for a major tooth defect.
  • A protective crown, on the other hand, is used for teeth where the solid enamel has already worn off. In this case, the function of the denture is to protect the soft dentin.
  • Another form exists with anchoring crowns. This serves as a fastening for additional dentures, for example a bridge.

Classification of tooth crowns according to their size and extent

In this context, dentists differentiate between partial and full crowns. A partial crown only partially covers the tooth. It is used when there is damage from caries and the area is too large for a tooth filling, but does not encompass the entire tooth surface. A full crown, on the other hand, completely replaces the natural tooth crown.

Classification of dental crowns according to the material used

Which material is suitable for a crown depends on various factors. Among other things, it depends on which tooth is affected and what loads the tooth crown has to withstand. In addition, aesthetic aspects also have an influence.

The dentures can be made of metal as well as ceramic or plastic . Full cast crowns are made entirely of metal. If the material used contains a certain amount of gold, it is referred to as a gold crown for the tooth. Due to its eye-catching appearance, it is mostly used in the molar area. An alternative are veneer crowns , which, unlike solid cast crowns, have a ceramic or plastic coating.

A particularly high-quality aesthetic can be achieved if the material used for the tooth crown is ceramic . Such crowns hardly differ in their appearance from natural teeth. However, there is also a disadvantage with a ceramic crown: The material is less break-resistant, which is why the crown is not quite as slim as a metal crown. Accordingly, the attending physician has to remove more tooth substance in order to be able to crown the teeth.

Dental crowns made of plastic are particularly favorable . However, they wear out faster than their metal counterparts. As a result, dentists usually do not use this type of crown as a permanent denture. However, all-plastic crowns are a long-term temporary solution.

Classification of dental crowns according to the type of anchorage

The way in which the crown is attached to the tooth can also vary. The doctor usually anchors the tooth crown with a special adhesive or cement. In the case of severely damaged teeth, on the other hand, a pin may be necessary to anchor the crown. In this case, we are talking about a pin tooth. If, on the other hand, the tooth is already missing, an implant crown with the associated structure in the jaw is a suitable alternative.

Dental crown: the procedure at the dentist

Usually only two appointments with a dentist are necessary for the production and insertion of a crown. During the first appointment, the dentist examines the tooth and treats it beforehand. To do this, he removes destroyed tooth sections and places a fill-up. The doctor then takes a precision impression, which the laboratory uses as a template for the tooth crown. Until this is done, the patient receives a temporary crown.

At the second appointment, the dentist inserts the laboratory-made crown after checking that it fits perfectly. He may then make minor adjustments. A check-up is usually carried out a few weeks later.

How long does a tooth crown last?

The lifespan of a crown depends on various criteria. The material is an important influencing factor. Full metal dental crowns, for example, last up to 25 years. With (partial) ceramic crowns, on the other hand, the shelf life is around 15 years, with an all-ceramic tooth crown (also called zirconium crown) at least 10 years – this type of denture has not been around for longer. Crowns veneered with plastic, on the other hand, often only look beautiful for the first five to seven years. It is usually possible, and in some cases even necessary, to replace a tooth crown.

In addition, the patient’s oral hygiene plays an important role. If you brush your teeth twice a day, have your teeth cleaned professionally at regular intervals and never miss a check-up at the dentist, you can significantly increase the service life of a crown.

Advantages and disadvantages of dental crowns

The main advantage of a crown is that it can often save even severely damaged teeth. In addition, it protects the tooth from renewed caries attack . However, there are also one or the other disadvantage or certain risks:

  • In some cases, the tooth nerve is damaged.
  • If the crown is not a perfect fit, new tooth decay can develop and, as a result, an inflamed tooth nerve.
  • It has a limited shelf life; for a new tooth crown it is necessary to grind the tooth again.