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A crown is a restoration that covers, or "caps," a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size, strengthening and improving the tooth’s appearance. Crowns are necessary when a tooth is generally broken down and fillings won`t solve the problem. If a tooth is cracked, a crown holds the tooth together to seal the cracks so the damage doesn`t get worse. Crowns are also used to restore a tooth when there isn`t enough of the tooth remaining to provide support for a large filling, attach a bridge, protect weak teeth from fracturing, restore fractured teeth, or cover badly shaped or discolored teeth.
To prepare the tooth for a crown, it is reduced so the crown can fit over it. An impression, or “mold," is taken of the teeth and gums and sent to the lab for the crown fabrication. A temporary crown is fitted over the tooth until the permanent crown is made. On the next visit, the dentist removes the temporary crown and cements the permanent crown onto the tooth.
Crowns are typically recommended because too much tooth has been lost due to decay or fracture that cannot be replaced with a filling. A crown covers the entire tooth to protect it. A veneer only covers the outside part of the tooth and is primarily used to change the appearance of the tooth.
There is no difference between a cap and a crown.
Crowns should last approximately five to eight years. However, with good oral hygiene and supervision, most crowns will last for a much longer period of time. Some damaging habits like grinding your teeth, chewing ice or fingernail biting may cause this period of time to decrease significantly.
To prevent damaging or fracturing the crown, avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects. You also want to avoid teeth grinding. brushing twice a day, cleaning between your teeth is vital with crowns. Floss or interdental cleaners (specially shaped brushes and sticks) are important tools to remove plaque from the crown area where the gum meets the tooth. Plaque in that area can cause dental decay and gum disease.