Dental Crown Preparation

Roughly 75% of Canadians went to the dentist last year. While many of these patients sought routine cleanings and needed fillings, some needed to have more advanced treatments like crowns.

What is a Crown?

Lateral and central crowns
Lateral and Central Crowns

Dental crowns are “crowns” that sits on your tooth and often cover the tooth down to the gumline. While a root canal may preserve some of your tooth structure, the portion that we remove and clean will never grow back on its own.

In fact, even a traditional filling is unlikely to protect the tooth enough.

Instead, we may recommend a crown, which we’ll create using resin, porcelain - or other materials. The crown is fabricated (more on this below) to slip over your existing tooth and is cemented in place. It's important to make sure there is enough solid tooth structure for a crown to be made.

Consultation: Do You Need a Crown?

Without seeing you in person, there’s no viable way for us to know if you need a crown or not. Instead, patients must visit our office so that we can perform a complete examination. We’ll often recommend a dental crown in a few scenarios:

  1. Multiple cavities on a single tooth can make the tooth too weak for fillings. There’s also the risk of more decay occurring. In this case, we may recommend a crown because it has a higher chance of success.
  2. Large cavities can be too large for a filling, leaving us with the only option of saving the tooth being a crown.
  3. Root canal procedures leave a big hole where the pulp once existed. In this case, we’ll seal the hole and then place a crown to increase the strength of the remaining tooth.

We may also recommend a crown when the tooth has a severe fracture, is weak, or has discolored enamel that you want to cover.

Preparing Your Tooth for a Crown

If we believe that a tooth cap is your best option, we’ll begin preparing the tooth for the procedure. First, we’ll remove any decay or damage to the tooth. We’ll take x-rays, numb the area and begin removing the decay.

Next, we’ll work on cleaning the tooth and ensuring that there’s no sign of caries left behind in the tooth’s cavity.

We’ll then smooth the tooth to ensure there are no jagged edges and that your bite is perfect.

Often, we’ll attach a temporary crown while awaiting the permanent crown’s fabrication.

Fabricating a Crown to Match Your Teeth

Porcelain crowns are about as close to a natural tooth as you can get. They are fabricated to match the size and color of your teeth so that they blend seamlessly in with your smile.

The fabrication process starts with one of the most important steps in the dental crown procedure - taking a digital scan.

Digital Scan of a Second Molar with iTero

We will take scans of all of your teeth so that your crown can be custom-fabricated to match your smile.

Those scans are sent to a laboratory and scanned into a computer to calculate the perfect dimensions for your smile.

Crown Placement

At this stage, we’re ready to place your temporary or permanent crown. We have a few different options for crowns here at Lighthouse Dental Centre, which we’ll discuss with you. 

If we need to send your scans to a lab, then we will place a temporary crown made of composite resin. 

Composite resin is the same material that we use for fillings, bonding and other dental restorations.

Your temporary crown will be lightly cemented into place to keep it secure for a  week until your permanent crown is ready.

When placing both your temporary and permanent crown, we’ll use local anesthetic to make sure that the entire procedure is as comfortable as possible.

Placing Your Permanent Crown

The final step in your dental crown procedure is placing your permanent crown. First, we’ll remove the temporary crown and all of its cement. Next, we’ll make sure that your tooth is completely dry and start the process of placing the permanent crown.

The first step is to check the contacts in between the crown and nearby teeth. If the contact is too tight or there’s no contact at all, there’s a greater risk of food becoming lodged between teeth and causing decay.

If everything checks out and the fit looks good, we will cement the crown into place. During this stage, we have to make sure that your tooth is isolated from saliva and water. Isolating the tooth is not a painful or uncomfortable process.

Once the tooth is isolated, we will place the bonding material onto the prepared tooth, and then place the crown.

We will have you wait about 1 minute to let the cement set properly. Next, we will check your bite to make sure that there aren’t any issues. 

If everything looks normal, then you will be free to go and enjoy your new smile. While you should be able to return to your normal routine, we recommend that you take it easy with soft food the rest of the day. Your crown will also need a little extra care right after the procedure.

5 Dental Crown Aftercare Recommendations

Once your crown has been placed, it’s important to follow some basic aftercare recommendations to protect your oral health and new dental work. 

We will provide you with detailed aftercare instructions, but generally, you’ll want to follow these tips:

1. Chew on the Opposite Side of Your Mouth

If you received a temporary crown, it’s important to take steps to protect the crown until your permanent one can be placed.

Temporary crowns are more susceptible to fractures and chips, so make sure that you chew on the opposite side of your mouth.

After your permanent crown is placed, avoid sticky or chewy foods for about 30 minutes so that the cement has enough time to set properly.

You should be able to brush and eat regularly once the cement has set and is securely in its position and protect the money spent of your new crown.

2. Use Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Some patients may experience discomfort after a dental crown procedure. In most cases, an over-the-counter pain reliever is more than enough to alleviate the pain.

Many patients find that using toothpaste made for sensitive teeth can also help with discomfort when brushing.

3. Stay Away from Hot Foods for a Few Hours

After your dental crown procedure, you may find it easier to eat soft foods that don’t require a lot of chewing. Soft foods are a great choice, but make sure that they aren’t hot.

During the crown procedure, we’ll use local anesthesia to make the process more comfortable. But that local anesthetic also makes it harder for you to determine whether food or drink is too hot. To protect your mouth and your crown, stay away from hot foods and drinks for the first few hours after your procedure.

4. Clean Your Gumline Well

Poor ginigival health
Poor gingival cleaning

After getting a dental crown, it’s important that you clean your gumline well. Remember that a crown simply covers your natural tooth, so it can still develop cavities if you’re not brushing and flossing regularly.

Patients are most likely to develop decay along the gumline where the crown meets the natural tooth. To prevent decay, make sure that you’re cleaning your gumline thoroughly whenever you brush. Be gentle but thorough to remove plaque build-up and prevent new cavities from forming.

5. Come in for Your Regular Dental Appointments

One of the best things you can do for your new dental crown and your oral health is to come in for your regular dental appointments. Coming in for routine check-ups and cleanings will help us detect issues with your crown or your other teeth early on.

The Bottom Line

Dental crowns are a great option for restoring the strength, form and appearance of your teeth. Knowing what to expect before and after the procedure can help you walk into our office with confidence. 

Get in touch with us to learn more about dental crowns and how we can help restore your smile.

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Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu - Dentist at Lighthouse Dental Centre and Blue Water Dental
Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu

With nearly two decades of experience, Dr. Sidhu enjoys helping his patients learn about dentistry. Knowledge is meant to be improved, challenged and shared.

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