In cosmetic dentistry, dental crowns or caps, can be used in order to cover and encase teeth that are damaged and or discolored. Beginning at the gum line, crowns cover the entire tooth or teeth, and are most often constructed using gold, porcelain, or a combination of both. Dental crowns can significantly improve the appearance of the smile by changing color or restoring a damaged tooth to its original shape.
Crowns or caps are also used to strengthen teeth that are damaged by age or wear. For whatever reason, most people eventually have one or more teeth that are no longer structurally in tact. Large scale defects in the surface of the teeth can be caused by several things, including lost fillings, root canals, chips or cracks in the enamel and decay underneath fillings in teeth. In cases where the surface of the tooth or teeth is diminished but the root system remains sound.
Because capping a tooth requires the removal of a portion of the tooth (this is to make room for the crown to be bonded to the tooth), most dentists tend to use other methods for cosmetic procedures unless the teeth in question are damaged.
In the event that crowning or capping is determined to be the best procedure to repair problems, a small amount of tooth is removed in order to avoid large awkward looking teeth with the addition of the crown. When that is completed, the dentist to make an impression of the teeth to be worked on. A dental lab is sent the impressions so that custom made crowns can be developed, a process that usually takes a few weeks. Because the tooth is exposed following the enamel being buffered away, a temporary crown is fitted during the wait for the permanent caps. When the permanent crowns are completed, patients return to the dental office to have them fitted and cemented to the original tooth.
Although crowns or caps are among the most expensive cosmetic dentistry procedures, with proper dental hygiene and care they can last between ten and fifteen years.