Nargiz I. Zadeh, DMD
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What You Can Expect During Your Dental Crown Procedure

October 22, 2021
Posted By: Dr. Nargiz I. Zadeh, DMD

Dental crowns are used to cover teeth that cannot be restored to their proper function with only a filling. They work to protect and reinforce severely compromised teeth helping to slow further breakdown and decay. 


Below, is a detailed run-through on what to expect during a crown procedure, which typically consists of two visits: the tooth preparation and the crown cementation. 


Visit #1

During the first visit, the tooth is prepared to make room for the crown to fit over it. The area being worked on is usually numbed so the tooth and gum lose sensation. Then, a quick impression of the tooth is taken to capture its original form. This impression will be used to make a temporary crown at the end of this visit.


Once numbed, the tooth is prepared by 1.) reducing the top portion to account for the crown material thickness, and 2.) creating a smooth margin along the gumline where the crown will meet the tooth. If the tooth has extensive damage or decay, then it needs to be built up to an ideal shape so there is something for the crown to grab onto. This procedure is called a “build-up” and is usually done with regular filling material after all the decay has been removed. Once the tooth is built up and prepared for the crown, a small string—called cord—is gently pressed into the gum around the tooth. The cord works to retract the gum and stop any fluid build-up around the tooth which can cause bubbles to form in the impression. After cord placement, a final impression is taken with the patient biting into a small tray filled with gooey material for three to five minutes.  


The final impression and a tooth shade are sent to a lab where technicians fabricate the crown. An accurate tooth shade must be recorded to help the lab in matching the crown to the adjacent teeth as best as possible. 


At the end of the visit, the dental assistant makes a temporary crown using the initial impression as a mold. The “temp” crown is glued to the tooth with a temporary cement and works to protect the tooth for two-three weeks until the final crown is being made. During this time, the patient is instructed not to eat anything hard, sticky, or crunchy to prevent the temporary crown from breaking or dislodging from the tooth. However, if it accidentally comes off, a quick 15-minute appointment is all it takes to re-cement it back on. 


Related post: Differences Between Crowns and Fillings 


Visit #2 

Once the crown is made, a second visit is scheduled to permanently cement it on. The temporary crown is first removed, and the tooth is gently cleaned of any residual cement or food that may have accumulated on it. Anesthesia is optional for this procedure since only a little air will be blown on the tooth along with light scraping while it is being cleaned. However, patients with sensitive teeth should opt to have the tooth numbed to prevent any discomfort.


Once the temporary crown is off, the final crown is tried on and carefully evaluated. The most important aspects of the crown—fit, bite, adjacent tooth contacts, and shade—must be deemed ideal before the dentist can permanently cement the crown. If the bite is too high or the crown is too tight, then it needs to be adjusted until the fit is right. After making these adjustments, the crown is polished to create a smooth finish on the material. Once the dentist approves of the fit and the patient agrees with the appearance, the crown can be permanently cemented on. After this point, it can no longer be removed. 


Related post: Dental Crowns Can Restore Your Teeth and Smile 


What Happens After Your Dental Crown Procedure

It is normal to have some sensitivity on the tooth for a couple of days following cementation. Also, different cements have different setting times with some taking a full 24 hours to completely harden. If this is the case, patients are instructed not to chew anything sticky on the tooth until the following day. As always, proper oral hygiene and regular checkups will go a long way in keeping the crown intact. Nothing lasts forever, but with proper care crowns can last for at least twenty years.


Related post: Dental Crowns: Ever Wondered What's in Them? 


Dental Crown Procedures in Tarzana, Woodland Hills, Calabasas

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