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Thursday, November 19, 2009

What is a dental crown? Why do teeth require dental crowns?

What are dental crowns?

Crowns are a type of dental restoration which, when cemented into place, fully cup over the portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line. In comparison, fillings are dental restorations that fill in or cover over just a portion of a tooth. Since dental crowns encase the entire visible aspect of a tooth, a dental crown in effect becomes the tooth's new outer surface.

Crowns can be made out of porcelain (meaning some sort of dental ceramic), metal (a gold or other metal alloy), or a combination of both. Other terms that are used to refer to dental crowns are "dental caps" and "tooth caps."

Why do teeth need dental crowns?

A dentist might recommend placing a dental crown for a variety of reasons but, in general, most of these reasons will usually fall within one of the following basic categories: To restore a tooth to its original shape.

To strengthen a tooth.

To improve the cosmetic appearance of a tooth.


Dental crowns be used to restore a tooth's shape and strength.

Since a dental crown that has been cemented into place essentially becomes the new outer surface for the tooth, it is easy to imagine how the placement of a crown can restore a tooth to its original shape. It's also easy to see how a dental crown can help to strengthen a tooth by way of being a hard outer shell that encases the tooth structure that lies within it. For both of these reasons, dental crowns are routinely made for teeth that have broken, worn excessively, or else have had large portions destroyed by tooth decay.

It is conceivable that a dental filling, as an alternative, could be used as a means to restore a tooth's shape. Dental crowns however offer your dentist a big advantage over dental fillings by way of the fact that they are fabricated "away from your mouth." By this we simply mean that dental crowns are fabricated in a dental laboratory (by a dental technician using plaster molds your teeth). Dental fillings, in comparison, are created "in your mouth" by way of your dentist placing the filling material directly upon your tooth.

When a dental crown is made the dental laboratory technician can visualize and examine all aspects of your bite and jaw movements, from a variety of angles, and then sculpt your dental crown so it has the perfect anatomy. In comparison, when a dentist places a dental filling they have far less control over the final outcome of the shape of your tooth because it is often difficult for them to visualize, evaluate, and access to the tooth on which they are working.

From a standpoint of strength considerations, there are some types of filling materials that can bond to tooth structure. For the most part, however, dental fillings are not considered to substantially strengthen a tooth in the same way that a dental crown, with its rigid encapsulation a tooth, can.

Porcelain dental crowns be used to improve the cosmetic appearance of teeth.

Since a dental crown serves to cup over and encase the visible portion of a tooth, any dental crown that has a porcelain surface can be used as a means to idealize the cosmetic appearance of a tooth. Possibly you have heard it rumored (especially in past decades) that certain movie stars have had their teeth "capped." This simply means that the person has obtained their "Hollywood smile" by way of having dental crowns placed.

Actually, getting your teeth "capped" just to improve their cosmetic appearance can at times be a very poor choice. Dental crowns are best utilized as a way to improve the cosmetic appearance of a tooth when the crown simultaneously serves other purposes also, such as restoring a tooth to its original shape (repairing a broken tooth) or strengthening a tooth (covering over a tooth that has a very large filling).

In general, a dental crown probably should not be used as a means to improve the appearance of a tooth if there is any other alternative dental treatment that could equally satisfactorily achieve the same cosmetic results. This is because a dentist must grind a significant portion of a tooth away when a dental crown is made. If a more conservative dental procedure could equally well improve the tooth's appearance, such as a porcelain veneer, dental bonding, or even just teeth whitening, then it is usually best to consider that treatment option first.

Understanding How Cosmetic Dentistry Beautifies Your Smile

Cosmetic dentistry is the field of dentistry related to improving the appearance of one’s mouth through dental procedures. In laymen’s terms, it is the expertise of cosmetic dentistry that gives broadcast journalists and Hollywood actors their perfect pearly whites.

Often, cosmetic dentistry involves the whitening of teeth, veneers, or other restorative procedures. Cosmetic dentistry differs from traditional dentistry, which focuses on the maintenance of good oral health and hygiene, and treating any maladies related to the patient’s oral health.

Veneers, implants, whitening treatments, and other cosmetic dentistry procedures have been available for many years. Whiter teeth have now become a status symbol, and Hollywood stars and other celebrities have popularized the need for a whiter, brighter smile. For this reason, there are newer and better procedures now available in the field of cosmetic dentistry to ensure one can get the much-coveted bright white smile.

Cosmetic Dentistry Tooth Whitening – Sparkling Shine

Tooth whitening is the most common cosmetic dental procedure. Teeth whitening can be done effectively with optimal results in the office of the cosmetic dentist, as opposed to do-it-yourself kits at home. Certainly, home whitening products are effective, but the time required to achieve desired results is far longer than having the procedure performed by a cosmetic dentistry professional.

Generally speaking, teeth can be whitened by several shades within just one office visit. This cosmetic dentistry procedure can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $900 at the highest end.

Perfectly Pearly Veneers with Cosmetic Dentistry

The use of veneers in cosmetic dentistry has been on the rise in recent years, especially with technological advances using better ceramics – which give a more realistic and natural quality to the look of the teeth being covered. Veneers are basically glued on outer covering or shells, utilized for several different purposes.

Veneers are used in cosmetic dentistry to cover teeth whose enamel is worn, chipped, or discolored. Additionally, veneers are used in cosmetic dentistry to fix minor aesthetic problems related to misaligned teeth or unevenly proportioned teeth. Several different types of veneers are available for those seeking a newer, cleaner, and brighter smile.

Realistic Cosmetic Dentistry Implants and Bonding

For teeth that are significantly chipped or completely missing altogether, other options are available, including bonding and implants. Implants are prosthetic teeth that look like the real thing and are very difficult not to mistake for real teeth. Implants are anchored to the patient’s jaw and are made to match the other teeth in their mouth. Once in place, implants are an ideal replacement for the missing tooth, and cosmetically, they improve an individual’s appearance.

Bonding occurs when cosmetic dentists use a composite resin to fill in large chips and/or cracks in a patient’s teeth. Typically, this cosmetic dentistry method is used for teeth besides the front teeth, as opposed to veneers, which are used for the front teeth, purely for cosmetic purposes. Bonding has not only aesthetic value, but benefits the patient by helping them to reduce further damage to the affected tooth or teeth by filling them in and strengthening them in the process.

With all of the advances in cosmetic dentistry, patients have a wide array of choices to help renew and rejuvenate their smiles. Consult with your cosmetic dental health care professional and see if one or more of these procedures would be right for you.

Implant Dentistry – A Solution for Missing Teeth

As we age, some of us will lose teeth due to disease, injury, or simple daily wear. In addition to bringing about unwanted changes to a person's facial appearance, missing teeth have a negative effect on that person’s confidence and self-esteem. With the advent of implant dentistry, however, those who are missing one, two or several teeth no longer have to accept a lifetime of embarrassment and inconvenience. Dental implants, sturdy titanium posts that are anchored directly into the jawbone and topped with realistic replacement teeth, provide the security and usability of permanently placed teeth.

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are a restorative dentistry option that allows patients to replace missing teeth with ones that look, feel, and perform like their own. During the first step of this procedure, a doctor skilled in implant dentistry surgically places a titanium screw or post in the patient's jaw. After the gums have healed around the embedded post, a replacement tooth is attached to the top of it.

Dental Implants – Benefits and Possible Complications

Dental implants are a vast improvement over conventional dentures. They're more stable and user-friendly than many other teeth replacement options, and because the posts that secure dental implants in place are integrated into the jaw, they also help prevent bone loss and gum recession (because the pressure of chewing on the implant’s crown stimulates the underlying bone and prevents it from deteriorating from disuse). However, some medical circumstances – including radiation therapy in the mouth area, and diseases such as diabetes -- lower the success rate for implant dentistry. For that reason, patients must undergo a rigorous screening process before they may proceed with implant dentistry.

Alternatives for Replacing Missing Teeth

Patients can choose from a variety of options to replace missing teeth. In addition to dental implants, there are removable partial dentures held in place by wire clips; fixed dental bridges cemented into position by crowns placed on the teeth adjacent to an empty space; and traditional full dentures.

Cost of Dental Implants – Financing Options

The cost of dental implants varies depending on the number of missing teeth and the area of the country in which the implant dentistry is performed. The cost of dental implants ranges from $2,000 to $4,000, so the average cost of the procedure is hard to pinpoint. Prior to treatment, your dental professional can go over implant prices and discuss your payment options with you. Fortunately, financing is available for people who require advanced treatment such as dental implant placement. Third party financing companies can provide credit and many dental offices offer installment plans for their dental implant patients to help manage the cost of replacing missing teeth.