Dental crowns: Procedure, time and cost explained

Crowns and the procedure

Severe damage to teeth, particularly those visible, can be repaired with fillings and addition of structural pins. But crowns and onlays on the teeth are still the best for the ideal tooth shape and improved strength and fracture resistance abilities.

Your natural crown of your tooth is the top layer of the tooth which is covered with enamel. A prosthetic crown will look like your own crown, but it is used to repair a tooth that has been decayed, chipped, or cracked, and can’t be repaired by other means.

Crowns are made in a laboratory by a skilled dental technician, and following a meticulous process. Use of computerized milling devices to make ceramic crowns is becoming more common, but they may not be appropriate in all applications.

Firstly the tooth to be crowned is usually numbed by injecting local anesthetic around the nerves that supply sensation to the tooth. Discomfort from the injection can be minimized by use of a topical numbing gel for a minute or two prior to the injection.

Normally a mold of silicone or other elastic materials is made of the teeth before they are altered. It can be used to make a temporary crown for the tooth while the final crown is being made in a laboratory, a process that can take a couple of weeks. The material used most for crown impressions is polyvinyl siloxane, a stretchy material that will returns to the shape it takes when it cures after a minute or two.

When a crown is made, your dentist will pay attention to shading matching and isolation. The crown has to match the natural teeth. Dental porcelains and resins available today can produce a stunningly precise match for the shade and optical properties of your natural tooth enamel, allowing a single crown to be made that matches your teeth nearly imperceptibly. More so, the dentist will make use of a dental dam or cotton balls to isolate the tooth from the mount structures like the cheeks and tongue to prevent injuries from instrumentation used to prepare the tooth.

Then your dentist will prepare the tooth by removing and decay, and filling any voids. It may be necessary to place small metal (normally titanium) pins in the tooth to rebuild the portion of the tooth that will be covered by a crown. The dentist may use any of a variety of filling materials to rebuild the tooth, for example composite resin or silver amalgam. Core build-ups are considered a separate billable procedure from crowns. A distinction is made between build-ups that involve all or a substantial portion of the core of the tooth, and those that require only a small amount of filling material in the core to build out a minor chip (called “basing to proper contour”). It’s a good idea to know in advance whether a complete core build-up is likely to be required, to avoid unexpected costs.

The tooth is then reduced in shape to a tapered stump, of 0.75mm to 3mm to make room for the crown that will be placed on the tooth. The new crown will then be slipped over it.



Two to four hours after the procedure, you might experience numbness. But you should avoid accidentally biting down the tongue or inside of the cheeks to avoid injury. More so, once the numbness wears off there might be sensitivity to hot or colds foods or when biting down on the affected area. This will be temporary for less than a week.

Possible complications

There might be some risks involved with a dental crown procedure. A qualified and highly acclaimed dentist can greatly reduce the risks and complications.

Still, removal of healthy tooth structure in preparing a tooth to receive a dental crown requires the removal of some enamel. At times, this enamel is perfectly healthy, but is removed to make room for the crown.

As the tooth is prepared it can be that the tooth’s surface to be made too thin. Also, the tooth’s nerve can be damaged. If this happens, root canal will be needed.

Crowns made with metal can be sensitive to heat and cold. Unlike natural teeth that expand and contract in reaction to temperature changes, artificial materials may react at a different speed, resulting in higher sensitivity. Special toothpastes can lessen this side effect.

Although dental crowns have remedied some cases of bite misalignment disorder they can also exacerbate bite misalignment if placed incorrectly. If you have headaches or shoulder pain after a dental crown procedure, it might be that the alignment is wrong.

An allergy test can be done prior a crown procedure to avoid a harmful allergic reaction to one of these materials of the crown.

If your dental crown is not correctly sealed or if damaged material is not completely removed, decay can spread. Plus, dental crowns that are not properly cared for with brushing, flossing, and regular check-ups can increase your risk for further decay, damage, and disease.