Dental Crowns Explained

Dental crowns help restore the strength, functionality and shape of a damaged tooth. They also protect the remaining teeth from breakage.


Depending on your situation, there are many different types of crowns. They can be made out of porcelain, zirconia, resin, metals like gold and chromium, or a combination of materials.

1. Strengthening

Crowns are custom fitted caps that can be bonded over teeth to strengthen them, improve their appearance and restore their function. They can hold together sections of a broken tooth, cover a badly worn down tooth and support a large filling when there isn’t much remaining natural tooth structure, hide flaws and adjust the shape or length of teeth, and even replace a missing tooth when used with dental implants.

A dental crown covers and improves damaged or discolored teeth, restoring their size, strength, shape and color. It also helps to prevent further damage by absorbing biting forces and covering jagged edges of a broken tooth that could cut your mouth, lips or tongue.

The best way to keep your teeth healthy is to practice good oral hygiene. This includes brushing and flossing on a regular basis to remove debris between your teeth and avoid decay which can compromise the health of your crown. You should also wear a mouthguard if you have been diagnosed with bruxism, as it can help to reduce the pressure on your teeth while you sleep.

2. Removing Sensitivity

A dental crown covers and protects a damaged tooth, keeping it away from sensitive areas where food, drinks, and other irritants can cause pain. This can help alleviate tooth decay, chipped teeth, and broken or cracked teeth.

When a dental filling is not enough to treat a cavity, or if the damage to the tooth is too severe, a dentist will often use a crown. The procedure involves drilling the tooth to remove the decayed part and fortifying it with a porcelain or ceramic material that looks natural.

Some sensitivity is common after getting a crown and should pass within a few days. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen and using a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth may help.

Metal alloys are often used in dental crowns as they have a high melting point, offer great strength, and resist corrosion and tarnish. They also need a smaller amount of the natural tooth to be removed for placement than porcelain or ceramic. However, they can be more prone to breakage and require a certain level of expertise to manufacture.

3. Covering a Discolored Tooth

If you have a discolored tooth that won’t respond to traditional teeth whitening treatments, dental crowns may be an option. They help to mask the underlying tooth color, giving the appearance of a whiter and brighter smile.

In this case, your dentist will take a scan or impression of the tooth and create a custom crown in their laboratory. They will choose a material that matches the color of the surrounding natural teeth. The crown will then be cemented into place.

For molars (the back teeth) the most commonly used material is porcelain. This material is luminous and translucent and transmits the natural tooth shade to the surrounding teeth. Other crown materials include feldspathic porcelain, zirconia and glass ceramic.

Alternatively, composite resin is an excellent material for crowns. This plastic type material has a very similar appearance to the natural teeth, and is available in a range of colors that can match most natural teeth. These crowns are typically more affordable but may be prone to chipping. They also don’t provide the same strength as other types of dental crowns.

4. Covering a Cracked Tooth

Dental crowns are a durable covering that protects the vulnerable parts of a tooth, including the crack. A cracked tooth left untreated can spread infection to the surrounding tissues. This can lead to a painful abscess, and the underlying bone may break off. If the crack extends deep into the tooth, a root canal treatment may be necessary.

A crown prevents the tooth from cracking further and enables you to eat normally. It also covers the rough broken edge of the tooth to minimize soft tissue irritation. It can also reduce sensitivity to hot and cold food.

There are several types of crowns, including BruxZir (a type of zirconia) and E-max (a type of porcelain). A dentist will select the best material based on the location and function of the tooth, the color of adjacent teeth, and the budget. The crown is then bonded to the damaged tooth using dental cement. It will restore strength, size, and appearance to the tooth, as well as support a bridge or hold a dental implant in place.

5. Restoring a Misshapen Tooth

Unlike dental fillings which only cover the surface of a tooth, crowns completely encase an entire damaged or misshapen tooth. This restores its shape, size and function, preventing further damage to the tooth and its surrounding teeth.

A missing tooth can also be restored using a dental crown. The dentist will physically inspect the tooth to determine the best way to restore it. This may involve a physical inspection of the surrounding teeth and panoramic X-rays. Dental impressions of the teeth will then be made and sent to a dental lab to create custom-fit crowns that match the size, shape, and color of the surrounding teeth.

There are many different materials a dental crown can be made of. These vary in strength and appearance. Porcelain crowns are popular, as they look natural and allow some light to pass through them (translucence) like a real tooth.

Metal crowns are usually made of gold or base metal alloys, with a high percentage of base metals and a small amount of noble metal (like platinum or gold). These types of crowns withstand bite and chewing forces very well. However, they do not look as natural and may leave a darker color on the gumline.