What are porcelain crowns?
Porcelain crowns are used to return strength to a heavily damaged tooth that is in danger of needing extraction. The crown covers the entire visible portion of the tooth, returning strength and function. Crowns can also be used as a cosmetic improvement to change a tooth that is misshapen and the like.
Dental porcelain is the preferred choice for constructing crowns. Porcelain provides the perfect combination of strength and appearance. With proper care, a porcelain crown can last for decades, and because porcelain allows the light to reflect in a manner similar to your natural tooth enamel they are aesthetically superior. Plus, fully porcelain crowns don’t include mercury or other toxic metals. Dr. Wiitala performs a variety of dental crown procedures in our Scottsdale office.
Who is an ideal candidate for a porcelain crown?
The purpose of a crown is to restore the strength in a tooth. Crowns are excellent options for the following problems:
- Chipped teeth
- Broken or fractured teeth
- Teeth with large fillings
- Severely worn teeth
- Misshapen teeth
- Severely discolored teeth
- Teeth that have had a root canal Teeth with fractured fillings
- The teeth are on both sides of a bridge
Because Dr. Wiitala has the CEREC system, we can prepare your tooth for the crown, mill the porcelain crown, and place it all in a single appointment. Crowns from other materials, such as gold alloy, need to be fabricated in a dental lab, which requires two appointments separated by usually two weeks.
Types of Dental Crowns
Stainless Steel Crowns
These prefabricated dental crowns used by Eric Wiitala DDS are used on what we refer to as permanent teeth. Although this is typically a temporary solution, the crown protects a tooth or filling while a long-term crown is created from a different material previously agreed upon by yourself and one of our cosmetic dentists here in Arizona. Our family dentists use stainless steel crowns mostly on children and their primary (baby) teeth because they are usually most cost-effective. These stainless steel crowns are fitted to a tooth and then removed with the primary tooth when it comes out naturally.
Our dentists commonly use crowns that contain gold alloy, nickel alloy, chromium alloy and other alloys. As far as durability is concerned, the cosmetic dentists at Eric Wiitala DDS use these given their ability to withstand chewing forces and biting very well. Crowns composed of these metal materials rarely chip or break, however, the drawback is the metallic color associated with this crowning option. For patients seeking a dental crown for out-of-sight molars, metal crowns are a reasonable solution.
All Resin Crowns
Resin crowns are often less expensive than alternative dental crown options although, our dentistry would like to note that these types of crowns wear down over time and are more susceptible to chips and fractures compared to metal crowns or porcelain crowns.
All Ceramic & All Porcelain Crowns
The dentists at our office have the ability to match your ceramic or porcelain crowns to the natural color of your teeth. Not to mention, these types of crowns are a much more applicable dental solution for those facing metal allergies. With that being said, ceramic and porcelain crowns can wear down opposing teeth more than metal or resin crowns. For front teeth, all ceramic crowns are an excellent choice.
How long do porcelain crowns last?
Our CEREC-milled porcelain crowns should last between 10-15 years. This depends, to a degree, on the health of the underlying tooth and gums. If you practice diligent oral hygiene you can maximize the lifespan of a crown. Nighttime grinding of your teeth can shorten the lifespan.
What other options are available instead of a crown?
When a tooth needs a crown it either has extensive decay or a deep crack. With extensive decay, there isn’t enough healthy remaining tooth mass to make the tooth viable going forward without a crown. Likewise, a deep crack cannot be repaired to return strength to a tooth. If a tooth has been worn down by grinding, there isn’t any way to build it up. In all of these cases, if the tooth is not crowned it will likely need to be extracted. If this is done, the missing tooth can be replaced by a dental implant or a bridge.
If a crown is placed on a tooth for cosmetic reasons, such as to change the shape or to cover deep interior staining, the other options are to place a porcelain veneer on the tooth or to apply dental resin to cover the tooth imperfections.
What is the difference between porcelain crowns and porcelain veneers?
Unless a crown is placed over a tooth simply for cosmetic reasons, the real difference is the goal of the two procedures. Porcelain crowns are usually placed on teeth with serious damage, and they return strength and function to the tooth, along with making it cosmetically perfect. Porcelain crowns are also used as the anchors for dental bridges.
Porcelain veneers can only be used as cosmetic improvements on teeth. They are thin shells of porcelain that are placed onto the front sides of the visible teeth. They can cover all sorts of cosmetic imperfections, such as chips, gaps between teeth, deep stains, and other issues. Unlike crowns, however, veneers do not return strength to a tooth.
What materials are used to make porcelain crowns?
Our CEREC system takes a block of dental porcelain and mills the crown from it. Porcelain is the best option for crowns because it resembles natural tooth enamel very closely in the way it absorbs some light and reflects some light. Dental porcelain is also very resistant to staining and is very strong.
What is the process for receiving a porcelain crown?
Once Dr. Wiitala discusses with you the need for a crown on your damaged tooth, he next prepares the tooth by removing any decay or damaged tooth material. Next, the tooth is shaved down on all sides and the top to create room for the crown to cover the tooth. We then take measurements and photos that will be used to create your crown. This information is sent to our CEREC system. The software allows Dr. Wiitala to design your crown in 3D right on screen next to where you’re sitting. Once both you and Dr. Wiitala are satisfied with how your new crown will look, the information is sent directly to the CEREC milling machine in our offices. The CEREC system then takes a block of dental porcelain and begins milling it precisely to the specs from the design. This only takes about 30 minutes.
When your crown is finished, Dr. Wiitala places it on the prepared tooth. First, he checks the color match with your adjacent teeth and then he checks the fit. If necessary, he may shave down an edge here or there. Once we both agree the fit is perfect, your new crown is cemented permanently onto your tooth and you can go out and use your new tooth immediately.
What is recovery like after getting a crown?
There is no recovery. This is a painless procedure. You may have some residual soreness from removing the decay from your damaged tooth, but that’s about it. Shaving down your tooth to make room for the crown and the placement of the crown are painless. It’s a good idea for the first 24 hours after receiving your crown to avoid overly sticky foods, just to be sure the dental cement has fully cured.
What Our Patients Have to Say
“I visited Dr. Wiitala recently, based upon a recommendation from a colleague. I was very impressed with his friendly and courteous staff, his kindness and very compassionate approach with his patients. Dr. Wiitala took time to explain the dental procedure I was about to have. I was delighted to have a new crown in no time. I love my new smile…thank you, Dr. Wiitala!” -Catherine M
Dental Bridges in Scottsdale, AZ
Dental bridges form a literal bridge between one or more missing teeth.
A bridge is made up of two or more crowns for the teeth on either side of the gap with a false tooth/teeth in between. Dental bridges are supported by natural teeth or implants.
Benefits of Dental Bridges
- Help restore your smile
- Help you chew and speak
- Replace missing teeth
- Prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position