Your smile may be almost awesome, except for that one tooth. It may have significant decay because of haphazard dental hygiene, or it may be broken from your unfortunate former habit of opening beer bottles with your teeth (or from opening too many beer bottles and getting "crowned" at the local bar by a patron who didn't appreciate your inebriated wit).
In any case, you can cover up your nonconforming tooth with a dental crown that looks just like a real tooth. It's relatively painless, and your insurance company may pay for a portion of the expense if you have dental insurance.
What are the procedures for getting a dental crown installed?
You must first make an appointment for the dentist to examine the tooth in question to determine the best course of action. If the tooth has significant decay, the decayed portion will need to be removed.
If the decay has progressed to the point that you need a root canal performed, then you'll need to have that done before preliminary fitting for the crown can be done. An x-ray will be taken to determine the need for a root canal.
A local anesthetic will be administered, and the tooth will then be reshaped to accommodate a crown, which is essentially a false hollow tooth that is cemented over the existing tooth. A decayed tooth or one that is broken to a point that only a sliver remains will need to be built up with a filler type material, while a tooth that is normal size but is chipped or simply looks bad will need the top and sides filed down so the crown will fit between the two neighboring teeth.
The dentist will order the tooth to be created by a local lab according to the material you choose. Cost is the main factor in the choice, with metal crowns cheapest but not ready for prime time in the visible part of your smile. You can also choose resin, which more closely resembles a natural tooth and is medium priced.
Porcelain or ceramic crowns can be shaded better to match existing teeth, but are the most expensive option.
The temporary crown
After shaping the tooth and taking an impression of the tooth and the surrounding teeth to ensure the the bite will not be affected, the dentist will form a temporary crown from acrylic and install it with temporary cement.
You will need to take better care of the temporary crown than you did with the original tooth. Hard or sticky foods should be avoided, as well as chewing ice or gum. You should also try to chew with the opposite side of your mouth when possible.
Receiving your permanent crown
Your permanent crown will be usually be available in roughly two weeks. The dentist will put it in place to be certain that it fits and doesn't affect your bite, then install it with permanent cement.
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