Dental porcelain can be sculpted to closely replicate the look of natural tooth enamel, while providing desirable strength and resilience. Porcelain crowns are an excellent choice when recreating the form and function of a damaged tooth, because a crown basically replaces the entire external portion of the tooth down to the gum level. Crowns are not limited to simply replacing the original tooth, but can be designed to create an even better esthetic appearance.
Cosmetic Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are indirect restorations that can be used to help an otherwise healthy tooth with a large filling. Inlays are placed within the grooves between the cusps (points) of a tooth, whereas onlays are placed within the grooves and over the cusp tips. Your AACD member dentist can help determine which restoration is better for you. Inlays and onlays can be used to replace old filings, and are more esthetically pleasing because they can be made to match a tooth’s natural color. Aside from improving a tooth’s appearance, inlays and onlays can strengthen the structure of a tooth because of their durability and longevity.
Crowns can be selected for necessity or cosmetic reasons. No matter what the case, the first step is to schedule an appointment with your AACD dental professional. The dentist will examine your teeth and in some cases will immediately see that a crown is the best option. In other situations where the problems aren’t so obvious, you may need to express your concerns and discuss your future smile goals so both you and your dentist have all the facts.
The Hows and Whys of Porcelain Crowns
Porcelain crowns replace the exterior portion of a tooth to re-establish its original function and to create a natural appearance. Crowns are the treatment of choice in situations where tooth decay has destroyed most of the original tooth, when a traumatic event has caused damage, or in cases of severe enamel erosion. They are also an option for people who grind and clench their teeth so much that the original structure of their teeth has been compromised.
The great benefit to porcelain crowns is they can not only replicate the original tooth in function, but can be designed to look like the original--or even better. When patients select a porcelain veneer for cosmetic reasons, they’re usually covering up the front portion of the tooth that has some esthetic flaw. A porcelain crown is thicker than a veneer and, in some situations, this thickness is needed. A porcelain crown can be used for cosmetic reasons, but it’s best to seek the advice of an AACD member dentist.
Crowns and veneers are situated and secured in the mouth in a similar fashion, using a light-sensitive resin placed between the original tooth and crown, and then hardening that resin with a special curing light.
Partial crowns, often referred to as onlays, are a type of restoration or filling that covers one or more cusps. An inlay is similar to a filling but the work resides completely within the cusps on a tooth’s chewing surface. These restorations are much more conservative than crowns, and can be imperceptible from your natural tooth.
Potential Crown Downsides
Porcelain crowns do require some laboratory time to be created and times vary according to the laboratory and its distance from your dentist, so expect to be fitted with a temporary, or provisional, crown for a while.
Some patients may experience sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures after porcelain crowns are attached. It’s best to consult with your dentist for more information about your individual case.
While porcelain crowns are very durable, they do not have the flexibility of natural teeth, so avoiding certain foods may be necessary. Chronic tooth-grinders and jaw-clenchers will need to be fitted with a nighttime mouth guard to protect the porcelain from unnecessary and excessive pressure and use.
Maintenance of a Porcelain Crown
Maintaining porcelain crowns is actually quite simple. Much like your original teeth, they require routine brushing with non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste and regular flossing.