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What to Expect When Getting a Tooth Crowned

Updated on September 7, 2015
Prettying up Your Teeth
Prettying up Your Teeth | Source

Crack! I was happily munching on a granola bar at work when I heard that dreaded sound coming from the back of my mouth. I was afraid to swallow or check for potential damage. As I went to the restroom, my worst fear was confirmed. I had broken off the front half of my tooth! Luckily it was towards the back side of my mouth so cosmetically there was one less thing to worry about. Immediately, I dialed my dentist’s office and she advised to come in right away. After assessing the damage, she ground down the remaining part of the tooth and scheduled me for a crown appointment the following week.

Below I share my own experience with getting a tooth crowned along with what you can expect if you are facing the same situation. Continue reading to learn why you might need a crown, what happens during your appointments including numbing, impressions, the difference between a temporary and permanent crown, and tips for taking care of your tooth after the procedure.

Why you Might Need a Dental Crown

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Typically, a crown is required if you have suffered substantial damage to one of your teeth that is beyond repair with a filling.

Fillings are great for small cracks or to fill cavities, but for larger damage to the tooth a crown is needed to provide substantial protection.

Fillings can sometimes be a temporary solution without providing the long term strength that a crown can.

What Happens during Appointment 1 of 2

Syringe used for numbing
Syringe used for numbing | Source
Your first dental appointment
Your first dental appointment | Source

Patients will usually need two appointments to complete the crowning of their tooth. During the first appointment, the dentist will examine the damage and prep the tooth for the temporary crown as well as take a mold to send to the laboratory to get your permanent crown crafted.

  1. Numbing

    When you first arrive for your appointment, the dental hygienist will start by prepping the affected area for numbing. Typically, he or she will place a swab with numbing gel on your gums for several minutes. The dentist will then arrive to administer the shot of Novocain to number the nerves. After this point, you shouldn’t feel a thing. If you feel any pressure, discomfort, or pain during the procedure, be sure to let the staff know immediately.

  2. Impressions & Choosing the Right Shade

    Your hygienist will often give you the choice between a full ceramic or porcelain fused to meal (PFM) crown. In my case, they recommended the PFM because they thought it would provide a strong, long lasting hold.

    Then, you will have an impression of the affected tooth taken. They will place a thick putty –like substance in a tray and press it onto the affected area. You will be asked to bite down for at least 30 seconds, then the tray is removed. This process may need to be repeated a few times as needed to get the impression just right. That impression is sent to the lab to have your crown custom made to fit your mouth.

    The hygienist will then choose from several sample shades of ceramic to find the right one that best matches your teeth.

  3. Prepping the Tooth

    The dentist may need to do some slight drilling or even place in pins to prep the tooth for the temporary crown. In my case, the prepping step took quite a bit more effort than anticipated. After I initially lost the front part of my tooth, the part that was remaining had come loose and the dentist decided there was nothing she could do to save it. After several minutes of drilling I could feel what was left of my original tooth was gone. She then proceeded to fill in the gap with temporary filling. This process took much longer than anticipated so I was rescheduled to come back for my temporary crown fitting.

  4. Receiving the Temporary Crown

    Your dentist will use the impression taken earlier to prep the tooth and fill it with a resin material in a shade chosen to match your other teeth, the place it over the affected tooth. This takes just a minute, then the impression is removed and the temporary crown can be fitted onto your tooth with temporary cement to secure it into place.

    This temporary crown will provide much more protection than simply having an exposed filling while you wait for your permanent crown to come back from the laboratory which can take anywhere from 7 to 10 days.

What Happens during Appointment 2 of 2

Ceramic crown
Ceramic crown | Source

Once your permanent crown comes in from the laboratory, you will be scheduled to return to the dentist for your permanent crown fitting. During the permanent fitting, your dentist will again number and prep the tooth, remove the temporary crown, examine the contact, and cement it into place. Read below to find out how!

  1. Numbing and cleaning the tooth

    Just like during your first visit, your tooth and gums will be numbed so you are comfortable and do not feel any pain during the permanent crown fitting. They will also clean up around the tooth and prepare to remove the temporary crown.

  2. Removal of the temporary crown

    Your temporary crown will be removed and the gums will be cleaned up of any remaining temporary cement. Your dentist will also ensure you have enough space along your teeth for the permanent crown to fit comfortably.

  3. Examination of the contact and fit (too tight vs. too loose)

    Once the permanent crown is fitted, the dentist will examine the contact and fit to make sure before cementing it into place, the permanent crown will not be either too tight or too loose.

  4. Cementing the Permanent Crown

    Once the fit is just right, the dentist will cement the permanent crown into place with a permanent cement. You’re all finished! Now once you go home and wait for the numbing medicine to wear off, you should be able to eat and drink normal meals again going forward! There are some habits and foods you may want to avoid to get the most life out of your new crown. If taking care of properly, most average crowns last between 5 and 10 years or even longer.

Caring for your Crowned Tooth

Avoid sticky foods like taffy
Avoid sticky foods like taffy | Source

Before you leave your final appointment, your dentist will probably check to make sure your bite feels correct. Once you are home, going forward it is important to care for your tooth to ensure not only good hygiene practices, but to ensure you avoid destroying the crown.

Below is a list of foods you may want to consider avoiding with your new crown, as they may cause the crown to crack, break, or get pulled off, resulting in potentially more trips to the dentist and more money out of pocket.

Foods you may want to avoid eating with your crown include:

Hard candy
Chewy candy
Soft caramels
Gummy candy
Jelly beans
Very crunchy vegetables

Other tips for caring for your crowned tooth to ensure your crown lasts as long as possible include:

  • Keep up good hygiene habits like frequent brushing and flossing

  • Continue regular dental checkups.

  • Avoid grinding your teeth.

  • Avoid eating hard or chewy foods like those listed above

  • Avoid fingernail biting

Check out this before and after video to see what kinds of results you can expect!

Before and After

I am pleased to report that I am extremely happy with my results. My teeth tend to crack and break very easily so having a permanent, cemented crown in place gives me peace of mind and allows me to be able to enjoy my favorite foods again on the side of my mouth I prefer to chew on! Even though my crown is located in the back of my mouth, the color matches perfectly and the natural look and feel is more than I could have hoped for. Throughout this process (though it can feel lengthy through so many return visits), I became very thankful for the ability to access great dental care and have the option to not only have a replacement for my tooth that functions but that also looks great.

Have you ever had a tooth crowned? What was your experience like? Did you get good results? How long did your crown last? Tell us about it in the comments, below!


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