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Dental Crowns
Millbrae Smile Center - Millbrae, CA

Dental crowns are similar in nature to a cap that fits over top of the tooth. They can be used on back teeth or front teeth, and they can be used for aesthetic or medical reasons. Crowns are different from fillings, which are made of resin composite and tend to be smaller in size. In cases where one tooth has had several fillings, or if a tooth is broken, a dental crown might be the best solution for saving the tooth and protecting it long term.

These days, most people choose crowns that are made of ceramic, but they can also be made of gold or a combination of other metals. While technology does exist to create same-day crowns, Dr. Zubrow believes that specialized dental labs make more precise and better-fitted crowns, so Millbrae Smile Center uses a two-step process to get superior results. This also breaks up one long appointment into two shorter visits.

Common Questions about Dental Crowns

What are dental crowns used for?

Dental crowns can be used for aesthetic or functional reasons. They are often used to replace large, older metal fillings, or large fillings that are cracked, failing, or just aren’t holding up well over time. When a patient has needed many fillings in the same tooth, each subsequent filling tends to be slightly bigger than the previous one, and eventually a dental crown might be the best solution.

How do I know if I need a dental crown?

Only a dentist can determine whether you need a crown. Your dentist might recommend a crown if you have an existing crown that is cracked or failing, or if a tooth or an old filling breaks. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, go in for a consultation with your dentist to see if a crown, filling, or some other treatment is best for your situation.

What are dental crowns made of?

Crowns can be made out of ceramic, porcelain, metal (such as gold), or a combination of porcelain and metal. Today, most people choose all-ceramic crowns because they tend to look the most natural. And while gold crowns are still considered to be the strongest option, ceramic crowns have improved over time to be just as strong—if not stronger—than some metal options. Of the two kinds of all-porcelain crowns, zirconia is one of the most popular and is probably the second-strongest option available, while EMax is more translucent and gives the tooth a more natural appearance. Your choice of material will likely be influenced by strength, location of the tooth, budget, and other individual factors. Your dentist will walk you through all your options and help decide which is right for your situation.

What is the process for getting a dental crown?

Getting a crown is similar to getting a filling, and it takes two appointments to complete the process. To start, your dentist will numb the area with anesthetic and clean up the affected tooth. They’ll fill the center of the tooth, then shave the periphery to create space for the crown. Next, they’ll take a digital scan and send it to the dental lab that will make your crown. At the end of the appointment, they’ll put a temporary crown on the affected tooth to protect it while your permanent crown is being created. While you have a temporary crown in place, Dr. Zubrow advises that you avoid eating anything too sticky or hard, so it doesn’t break or pop off. If it does pop off, it can be cemented back on.

Two weeks later, you’ll come in for a follow-up appointment, during which your dentist will remove the temporary crown and put on the permanent crown.

Sometimes, if a cavity is particularly big or a crack in the tooth has gone to the nerve, a patient will need a root canal in addition to the crown. In those cases, the root canal will be performed first.

What is the recovery like after getting a dental crown?

After the permanent crown is placed, you can expect a recovery similar to getting a filling. Your tooth might be sensitive for a few days or weeks. And there are no major limitations on what you can eat long term.

Are dental crowns permanent?

Dental crowns are an excellent way of protecting sensitive or damaged teeth, but they do need to be replaced periodically. It is possible for dental crowns to crack, but most dental crowns are very strong and can last between 5 and 10 years. The life of a crown will depend on several factors. In order to make your dental crown last as long as possible, be sure to practice good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing daily), go in for routine cleanings and X-rays, avoid sugary drinks, and wear your night guard regularly if your dentist recommends one for grinding or clenching your teeth.

Can you fix a cracked dental crown?

Cracked or broken dental crowns cannot be repaired. Your dentist can evaluate your crown and determine whether it needs to be replaced.

What if I need a crown on a front tooth?

A front (or anterior) crown can be a great aesthetic choice when a front tooth has had several fillings over time that have become bigger or stained, or when a tooth has undergone trauma or a root canal and is turning gray.

When working on an anterior tooth, Millbrae Smile Center works with a local cosmetics lab to get precise shade matching and to make sure patients get the absolute best results.

Are dental crowns covered by insurance?

Coverage for dental crowns varies from one insurance plan to another, but most plans cover at least some portion of the cost. The staff at Millbrae Smile Center will help you figure out how much coverage to expect.

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