What is a Dental Crown?
Learn what a crown is, what they are made of, treatment plans, and after care
A dental crown is a fixed prosthetic device that is cemented onto a damaged natural tooth. It can also be attached to the metal rod of a dental implant. Your dentist may recommend that you get a crown if your tooth needs a large filling that would leave the remaining tooth too weak to withstand biting into or chewing food. Crowns are also used as preventive measures to protect teeth that have been worn down from grinding or that are at an increased risk of decay. A dental crown might also be used as a cosmetic device if you have a tooth that has been badly stained or chipped. 
Dental Crown Procedure
Preparing your tooth for a dental crown usually requires two visits to the dentist. During your first visit, the dentist examines the tooth and jaw. X-rays are taken so that the dentist can see the tooth’s root structure and the amount of gum tissue and bone available to support the crown.
The dentist injects a numbing medication into the gum tissue and the tooth’s root. This medicine minimizes any pain during the preparation of the tooth. The dentist files the sides and chewing surfaces of the tooth to decrease its size. The amount of filing necessary depends upon the type of crown that will be placed. Metal crowns are thin, requiring only a small amount of filing before they are placed. Thicker fused or all-porcelain crowns require that the size of the natural tooth be significantly reduced.
To make a customized crown, the dentist places some putty or resin around the filed-down tooth to obtain an impression. The impression is then sent to a dental lab where the crown is cast. A temporary plastic crown is fitted onto the tooth until the second visit when the permanent crown is then cemented into place on the filed-down tooth.
Types of Dental Crowns
There are four types of dental crowns that can be used to restore your teeth. A ceramic crown is used to restore the front teeth. It is primarily made of porcelain and can be glazed to match the color of your natural teeth. A crown made of porcelain fused to metal mimics the natural color of teeth but has added durability due to the metal core. These are often used on the side teeth, such as incisors and canines. Gold alloy crowns are cast from a combination of gold, copper and other metals. They are durable, resist corrosion and do not crack. These crowns are usually used on the molars. Base metal crowns are made of nickel, chromium and other metals. They require the least amount of filing and can withstand plenty of chewing.