Teeth can be damaged in many ways. Chips, cracks and breaks can occur as the result of sporting injury, motor vehicle accidents or from any other kind of head trauma. Broken teeth can be very painful and also expose the sensitive inside parts of the tooth to the risk of infection and disease. Teeth can also be damaged by dental decay and enamel erosion. This again leaves them vulnerable to attack from disease, which could eventually lead to tooth loss. When teeth are damaged in this way it is necessary to protect them from further injury and also to restore the cosmetic appearance.
One of the oldest and most effective ways of protecting teeth is to fit a dental crown over the top. A dental crown is a ceramic or metal and ceramic cap that is designed to fit over the damaged tooth, covering all parts of the tooth above the gum line to act as a barrier to further damage. A dentist will first need to remove some of the existing enamel so that the crown can fit comfortably over the top. The crown, which will have been made in laboratory conditions to be the same size and shape as the original tooth, will then be cemented over the top using composite bonding.
Crowns are made from metal and ceramic as these are very versatile and strong materials. Ceramics such as porcelain also have a very similar appearance to tooth enamel, giving an improved aesthetic appearance. Once firmly in place the crown will perform all the functions of the original tooth.
Crowns are also used after certain dental surgeries and treatments to add a dimension of protection to the teeth. If dental decay has caused significant damage that a filling is not sufficient to protect the tooth, then a crown may be used to offer greater protection. Crowns are also used after root canal treatments to prevent further infection.