Call them caps, call them crowns … no matter how you put it, having capped teeth can dramatically improve your smile, your bite and your general outlook.
Caps are one of the most popular forms of dental restoration because they are easy to fit, long-lasting and covered by most dental insurance plans. If decay, discoloration, chips, breaks or other issues are compromising your smile, the time is right to talk to an experienced prosthodontist (cosmetic dentist) about what capped teeth can do for you.
What capped teeth are made of
Dental caps and crowns are made from a variety of materials. The type you and your dentist choose usually depends on where the tooth is located.
- For front-facing teeth – the ones people see when you smile – a porcelain crown looks indistinguishable from your other teeth.
- If the cap is in the back where nobody but your dentist will see it, a gold crown is the durable, affordable choice.
- You may also opt for hybrid compounds, like porcelain fused to metal for your back teeth.
The steps of capping your teeth
In an initial screening and checkup, you may have x-rays to determine the extent of the damage to your teeth. If the tooth to be capped is in relatively good shape, the cap will be shaped to the tooth’s regular contours, then cemented into place. For a severely decayed or broken tooth, however, you may need to provide a foundation for your cap with a dental post.
Once you and your dentist agree on the type of crown to apply, you’ll make an appointment for the first of two visits.
In your first visit, the dentist will numb the tooth and surrounding gum, then file down the affected tooth to make room for the crown and/or post. After reshaping the tooth, the dentist presses putty on the area to make an impression. This goes to his laboratory, where a temporary crown is fashioned out of stainless steel or acrylic and glued into place. The procedure takes about an hour.
This “temp” is designed to withstand everyday use for the one or two weeks it takes to create and refine your permanent crown. You’ll want to avoid taking chances with it, though – be careful with hard or sticky food.
When you get the call that your permanent crown is ready, your second visit is a relatively short one compared to the first visit. After applying a little local anesthetic, the dentist simply pops the temporary off and cements the permanent crown into place.
You’ll be asked to chew, bite down or move your teeth several times so that the dentist can spot any areas that need adjustment or refiling.
Once the anesthesia wears off, it’s not unusual to feel a little soreness or tenderness around the gum line. An over-the-counter pain reliever can help, as can an ice pack. The pain should diminish quickly, and your bite should feel natural.
Caring for your capped teeth isn’t much different than maintaining your regular teeth. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, and floss your teeth daily.
With proper care, capped teeth can have a robust lifespan of 10 or 15 years – maybe even longer if you can avoid clenching, chewing on ice or using your teeth to rip open packages.
Are capped teeth for you?
Ask the cosmetic dental experts at Dr. Stone’s Fort Lauderdale office for a free consultation.