crown (often called a cap) fits over and replaces the
entire part of a
decayed tooth above the gum line. It encases the tooth
and becomes the tooth's new outer surface.
You will typically need two or more visits to your dentist to
repair a severely decayed tooth with a crown.
Crowns may be made of porcelain or a metal base covered with a thin
layer of ceramic that matches your teeth and looks like a normal, healthy
tooth. Crowns for the teeth in the back of the mouth may be made of
During your first visit, your dentist will take out the decay and
make an impression of your teeth to create a mold used for making the crown.
Your dentist will:
- Numb your teeth, gums, tongue, and surrounding
skin. Your dentist will first put a substance that feels like jelly directly on
the area to start the numbing process, and then inject an
anesthetic to complete it. Many dentists will give you
nitrous oxide gas (laughing gas) to reduce your pain and help you
- Sometimes use a small sheet of rubber on a metal frame
(rubber dam) to target the decayed tooth and stop liquid and tooth chips from
entering the mouth and throat.
- Drill out all the
- Take an impression of the decayed tooth. The mold will allow
a technician to make a crown that perfectly matches the drilled tooth.
- Cover the tooth with a temporary crown until your permanent crown
See pictures of a
tooth and tooth decay.
During your second visit, your dentist will:
- Numb your teeth and gums as before.
- Remove the temporary crown.
- Cement the permanent
crown to the damaged tooth.
- Have you bite on a piece of carbon
paper. This shows how well the crown is positioned. If necessary, your dentist
will reshape and polish the crown.
What To Expect After Treatment
Your lips and gums may remain numb for a few hours until the
anesthetic wears off. To avoid injuring
your mouth, be careful not to chew on your numb lip or cheek.
Why It Is Done
A crown is used to:
- Treat teeth that have broken or decayed so much
that your dentist cannot fix them with a
- Cover a tooth that is so
severely damaged that most of the top part had to be
- Repair a defective filling.
- Improve how a
Dentists sometimes use crowns after
root canal treatment to seal the tooth and prevent it
How Well It Works
A crown will work just like a healthy tooth.
Crowns sometimes come loose over time, and you may need to get them
cemented again or replaced.
If tooth decay is right next to the pulp, the pulp may not be
strong enough to make healthy
dentin, which surrounds and protects the pulp. If this
happens, your dentist or
endodontist may have to remove the pulp, or an
oral surgeon may have to remove the
If you have certain heart problems, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics before a dental procedure. Some procedures can cause bacteria
in the mouth to enter the bloodstream and cause infections in other parts of
the body. The antibiotics lower your risk of getting an infection in your heart called endocarditis. For more information, see People Who Need Antibiotics to Prevent Endocarditis and Procedures That May Require Antibiotics to Prevent Endocarditis.
What To Think About
If the decay is near the
pulp and your dentist thinks the pulp might die, he or
she might suggest taking out the tooth (extraction) and
implant. If the pulp dies after you get a crown, you
will need a root canal to remove the dead pulp.
Complete the special treatment information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Steven K. Patterson, BS, DDS, MPH - Dentistry|
|Last Revised||June 14, 2011|