Dental crowns are one of the most common dental restorations that dentists use. Being a safe and effective treatment, a crown improves your smile making it natural-looking and beautiful. It is the best option to protect the tooth from further damage and make it last longer. Read more to know what you can expect during a dental crown procedure.
When is a dental crown procedure needed?
A dental crown is a cap a dentist puts on your damaged tooth to restore its shape, function, and color. Your dental professional will recommend getting a crown in the following situations:
- Restoring a tooth severely affected by tooth decay or cavities that filling can’t fix.
- Covering a severely discolored, stained, and misshapen tooth
- Covering a dental implant
- Securing a dental bridge
- Covering a tooth that has been treated with a root canal
How long does it take to put a permanent crown on a tooth?
The process for getting a crown takes up two dental appointments separated by 2 to 3 weeks apart. The first appointment involves preparing the tooth, taking an impression (mold), and placing a temporary crown. This whole process might take between 1 hour to 90 minutes depending on how much work is needed.
In the second appointment, your dentist will first remove the temporary crown and will cement the permanent crown over the tooth. Usually, this session can last about 30 minutes.
There are also same-day dental crowns which are made through computer-aided-design (CAD) and computer-aided-manufacturing (CAM). Therefore, the same-day crown, as its name, doesn’t require a second visit. The whole process of tooth preparation, crown fabrication, and placement takes only a single dental appointment.
Dental crown procedure
Before getting a crown, your dentist will perform some initial evaluations on your tooth or teeth. This includes checking the health of teeth and gums, asking you about habits like teeth grinding, and taking X-rays of the tooth.
Sometimes, if there is a severe form of tooth decay or dental injury that has infected the dental pulp—the soft tissue inside a tooth that consists of nerves and blood vessels—, a root canal treatment will be recommended.
Choosing your dental crown type
You and your dentist will also discuss the crown that works best for you during your first appointment. There are different types of dental crowns to choose from. So, you may get one of the following types depending on your cosmetic goal, the location of the tooth, or your financial needs:
- Porcelain (all-ceramic)
Anesthesia to numb your tooth
Before starting off with the tooth reduction process, your dentist will apply local anesthetic to the tooth and the surrounding gum tissues. You will feel numb in the area of the tooth and the gums, so you don’t experience any pain. The numbing agent can be injected into your gums to block the dental nerves and make your procedure completely pain-free.
In some cases, your dentist may also try sedation methods. This can take several forms, including inhalation of the nitrous oxide through a mask, taking sedation medication orally, or intravenous method in which the numbing agents can be injected through the vein.
Tooth preparation (reshaping)
After numbing up the area, it’s time for prep work on the tooth or teeth receiving the crown. Your dentist will file down and reshape the tooth until there is enough space for the bulk of the crown to fit. The removal of tooth structure depends on the amount of decay and the type of crown you need.
For example, porcelain/ceramic crowns generally require adequate thickness and thus more trimming of the tooth than materials like metal and gold to create a natural and strong customized crown.
Taking an impression
After completing the shaping and trimming process, your dentist will make an impression of your tooth and the surrounding teeth. The impression will then be sent to a lab where your custom-made crown is manufactured to fit your dentition space and bite.
You will bite on a mouth tray filled with a paste or a putty-like material (the impression material) in order to make the impression.
Placing the temporary crown
Your dentist will place a temporary crown over your prepared tooth. You need to wear the temporary crown for about 2 to 3 weeks until the second visit when the permanent crown is ready to be fitted.
The temporary crown is just cemented temporarily and is not meant to last for a long time. It will protect your tooth from sensitivity and being exposed to bacteria in the mouth. Take extra care with that when chewing, eating, or brushing.
The second appointment: permanent crown placement
Now you are back at the dentist’s office. It is the second and last stage of your dental crown procedure, where the permanent crown is placed. Your dentist will first remove the temporary crown and any remaining parts and check the shape, fit, and color of the new crown.
Next, your dentist will apply the dental cement onto the prepared tooth and inside the crown. Depending on the type of bonding material, it may be necessary to use light curing to activate and set the cement. Finally, your dentist will place the permanent crown onto your tooth. Once fitted, the excess cement is removed from around the tooth and on the gums.
Watch the short animated video below illustrating the crown procedure:
The same-day dental crown procedure (CEREC)
If you want to get a crown in just one day, then you can choose the same-day dental crown procedure also known as CEREC crown. The process involves computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing for crown fabrication.
After initial examinations and reshaping the tooth, the procedure for the same-day crown procedure looks like this:
- Scanning: Your dentist will use an intraoral camera to take digital scans of your mouth and tooth needing the crown. This will generate a 3-D model of teeth and mouth.
- Creation: Using the CAD/CAM software, your new crown is designed and transferred to be made. The CEREC milling machine creates the crown out of a ceramic block.
- Placement: Once the crown is ready and checked for fit, your dentist will place and bond it on the tooth.
You can expect the full process to take anywhere from 2 hours to 4 hours for one same-day crown. The time can vary depending on the number of crowns you get. It saves you a lot of time without weeks of waiting.
The recovery period after the crown procedure just takes a short time. You may feel irritations and inflammation in the area for a few days, but it soon goes away. Follow your dentist’s instructions and care tips. If you feel pain that persists, let your dentist know.
Also, remember that it is important to take care of your crown just as you do with your natural teeth. So, be sure you brush and floss daily and avoid habits like teeth grinding to make sure the crown lasts for many years.
The short answer is no. Getting a dental crown is done under local anesthesia and so is painless. Your dentist will numb the tooth and the gums around before drilling or placement. However, you might experience sensitivity or some discomfort after the procedure when the numbing agent wears off.
In order to place a crown, there should be enough healthy tooth structure—in most cases at least ¼ of the portion of the tooth—to support a crown. Your dentist can build up the tooth with composite resin if much of your tooth is damaged or decayed.
Yes, you can. Same-day crowns use CAD/CAM technology and therefore the entire crown procedure is done in one dentist’s appointment. The process might take between 2-4 hours and vary if you have more than one tooth to fix.