Dental Crowns

woman smilingDental crowns are a staple in the repair of damaged teeth. In order to understand how important this procedure is, it’s necessary to understand what a crown is made of, and how it can be damaged.

What Is Enamel?

The crown of the tooth is the part we can see. It’s the protective outer layer that surrounds all of the  sensitive inner structures of the tooth. Crowns are covered in a substance called enamel, which is the hardest material produced by the human body. Yes, even harder than bone!

This largely inorganic mineral forms around the crown of the tooth while the tooth is still developing inside the jawbone. Once the tooth grows into place, the formation of enamel ends, leaving a tough layer of protection between the tooth and the rest of the world. 

If this hard protective layer gets damaged, it is time for Dr. Hill to step in. If the damage is extensive enough, the tooth may need replacement with a full dental crown. Our custom-made crowns are created to match your natural teeth in color, size, and functionality.

Cavities, Tooth Damage, and Dental Care Options

The inner portions of your teeth—the soft tissues protected by the enamel—are full of nerves and blood vessels. Anything that exposes those tissues can not only put them at risk for infection and damage, but can also cause a great deal of pain.

This can happen in a number of ways:

Cavities | Cavities occur when the enamel of a tooth becomes damaged. It will gradually decay, leaving open space for particles and infection. Cavities are usually treated by cleaning out the affected area and replacing it with a filling.

Large fillings are sometimes possible if the decayed area is more extensive. However, once a cavity has spread to a particularly broad area of the tooth, it is usually necessary to use a dental crown instead of a filling for a full repair.

Gum Disease | Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. It is caused by a bacterial film called plaque, which grows on our teeth every day. The plaque likes to build up along the gum line and irritate the tissues there. 

If left untreated, this causes the gums to recede and bone to erode which loosens the tooth. If they recede enough, the loose tooth may require removal. When this happens, we can replace a missing tooth through several means, including bridges (three crowns splinted together to fill the space) and dental implant crowns.

Accident or Injury | Accidents happen. Whether you fall off your bike, trip and fall, or experience a sports injury, your teeth are at risk of breaking, cracking, or chipping. In many of these situations, the tooth is repaired most effectively by the placement of a porcelain crown.

If Enamel Is So Tough, Why Do I Get Cavities?

Unfortunately, even the hardest substances in the world can still be eroded or broken, and tooth enamel is no exception. Chronic exposure to acidic substances can be one of the biggest threats to enamel health. Other threats include constant teeth grinding—known as bruxism— as well as physical injury.

Cavities happen when the enamel has either been broken or worn away. The soft, inner parts of the tooth become susceptible to damage and decay.

What if I Just Brush My Teeth Extra Thoroughly?

Because mineral formation stops after emerging into the mouth, missing enamel cannot be regrown by the body. Therefore, repairing this damage is the primary concern of dentists.

The good news is that there are several treatments and practices that can reduce damage to the enamel while you still have it. Daily oral hygiene, fluoride, and healthy eating habits can make a world of difference to your teeth.

What Is a Dental Crown?

As described above, most cavities are treated by cleaning out any decay, and sealing the missing enamel with a filling. The problem is that not all cavities are created equal. Neither are all chips or cracks. 

Sometimes it becomes necessary to replace more than just a weak bit of enamel. This is where the dental crowns come in. When the damage to a tooth is widespread enough, we will replace all of the enamel with a protective cap called a crown. This acts like a tooth helmet, keeping the insides safe, once again.

How Do Ceramic Crowns Work?

Permanent crowns are made to fit perfectly into your mouth following tooth preparation through this unique process:

1) First, we make a custom impression of your teeth and the alignment of your bite. .

2) After the impression, our laboratory uses the model to design a replacement tooth that will fit comfortably, work effectively, and look like your natural teeth. Dr. Hill also provides the option of high noble metals, if needed, for special circumstances. 

3) We create and place temporary crowns on your teeth until the final crown is ready to keep your teeth protected during the interlude. 

4) The custom-made dental crown is placed over the prepared tooth, where it is sealed into place.

What Are Dental Crowns Made Of?

Most crowns these days are ceramic. They can also be made of a number of metal alloys for strength in challenging areas, most of which include a layer of porcelain over the top so they still look like teeth!

Dental porcelain is an ideal material because it is completely safe, very strong, and can be colored to match your smile.

Types of Dental Crowns Available at Hill and Schneidmiller DDS

Your dental health is our top priority. As with most things in life, one-size-fits-all is not the most useful philosophy. That’s why we have a number of different ways that dental crowns can be used.

Single Crown Placement | Most crown placements are single-tooth treatments. One tooth, which has become damaged, is restored by placing a crown over it.

Dental Bridge | Bridges are very unique types of crowns. Rather than one single crown placed over a damaged tooth, a dental bridge uses a series of connected crowns to span a gap where a tooth is missing. This restores the wholeness of your smile, and can even be used for missing front teeth.

Dental Implants | Implants are also an amazing way to replace missing teeth. However, instead of making a bridge of dental crowns, the new tooth is anchored onto a dental implant post which is placed into the jaw itself.

This post will act as a tooth “root.” Once the permanent crown has been placed on top, you will have a complete synthetic tooth. It will act like a natural tooth, look like a natural tooth, and even function like a natural tooth, as it perfectly and precisely fits the shape and size of your mouth.

How Can I Restore My Crown near La Mesa, California?  

At Hill and Schneidmiller DDS we do much more than just place crowns. We help you keep them healthy and in good repair. If you are in need of advice, diagnosis, or treatment for a crown, current or future, contact our La Mesa dental office today. We’re happy to help you find the treatment plan that is right for you.