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Dental Crowns: Preparation, Crown Selection, and Aftercare

Closeup of a girl with beautiful smile at the dentist
Have you decided to get a dental crown to fix your damaged tooth? If so, know that it can restore the tooth's beauty while giving it some muchneeded stability. Here is what you need to know about the entire dental crown process, from preparing the tooth to the aftercare you need to provide.

Preparation

There are three key parts of preparing a tooth for its new dental crown.
Placement of Rubber Dam
The first thing the dentist will do is surround the tooth with a special rubber dam. It's a small piece of rubber that will help prevent bacteria from getting into the tooth, and as a result, prevents an infection. The dentist will try to take steps to make sure that no bacteria gets trapped between the natural tooth and your new crown.
Removal of Decay
The dentist will then remove all the decay that is currently on the tooth. This involves performing a root canal if there is infected pulp in the tooth, but it could require simply drilling away the decayed parts. Composite material might be applied to the tooth to give it some structural stability if a lot of the natural tooth was removed due to decay
Perform Enameloplasty
The crown needs a surface to stick to, which is why the dentist performs enameloplasty. This is similar to the procedure used for dental veneers, which creates a rough surface on the tooth so the bonding substance will stick to the tooth. The dentist will also compensate for the size of the crown, which involves removing enough enamel so that you retain the same natural bite that you had before the procedure.

Crown Selection

Several types of crowns can be used for your tooth, with their use depending on the tooth's health.
Full Crown
Full crowns are used in a situation where the tooth is weak. It's ideal for teeth that have a lot of decay, were cracked, or had a significant part of the tooth break off.
Three-Quarter Crown
If the tooth is mostly healthy, a three-quarter crown can be used to cover one side. This is ideal if you are getting a crown for cosmetic reasons since it will typically cover the front surface of the tooth and leave the healthy portions exposed. Since the crown doesn't look seamless, it is common to use it on rear teeth where it is not easily seen.
Onlay Crown
If your tooth was damaged in the center rather than the sides, an onlay crown can be used to cover that top part of the tooth. This keeps the healthy sides of the tooth exposed. It is common to use an onlay crown on a front tooth since they are not designed for teeth where a lot of pressure is used to chew food.

Aftercare

The key to having a successful dental crown procedure is with the aftercare you provide.
Foods to Avoid
Stay away from foods that are hot or cold, since the crown can make the tooth feel more sensitive than usual. Those extreme temperatures will be conducted very easily by the crown material. You should also avoid sticky food that can attach to the crown. Anything that puts excessive pressure on the crown can cause the crown to become loose, which will eventually result in the crown falling off.
Flossing Methods
Be mindful of how your dental floss catches on the edge of your dental crown. You want to avoid getting a piece of floss caught on the edge and lifting upward, which can also put pressure on a crown and cause it to become loose.

This is just a brief overview of what you need to know. Speak with Jeffrey S Mika, D.D.S for more information about dental crowns.