Crowns are fixed covers or caps that structurally support teeth. They can be gold or porcelain (tooth color). Crowns (they are tight - do not come in and out) are used to repair teeth that have been badly broken, that have root canal fillings, that are malformed or discolored or that need a better bite. The tooth is trimmed, impressions (molds) are taken, the crown is fabricated to fit over the trimmed tooth, and the crown is then cemented or bonded to complete the restoration of the tooth.
Your dentist will make an impression of the tooth and a dental laboratory will create the crown. You will typically leave the office with a temporary crown to wear while the permanent crown is being made - this takes about two weeks. The permanent crown is then cemented onto your tooth. Typically, only two visits are required for this part of the procedure. Often, a preliminary restoration of your tooth may be needed before a crown can be placed. To stabilize your tooth, a filling must first be put in place prior to placing a crown due to the loss of original tooth structure. Dental crowns can last ten to fifteen years.
Be sure to discuss with your cosmetic dentist that the cement color used for your permanent crown will be the same as used for your temporary crown. A trial in paste is used for this purpose. The color of the cement does affect the overall color of a porcelain crown, so this needs to be discussed long before your temporary crown is placed.
There are basically three types of crowns, those made of gold, ceramic crowns and ceramic-veneered gold crowns. Gold and metal-ceramic crowns are extremely durable and are normally used in molars, where the forces from chewing and grinding are most prevalent. Ceramic crowns are used primarily for front teeth, since they can best resemble the natural tooth color.
In some cases your dentist may choose to use a Flipper instead of a temporary crown. A Flipper is a false tooth to temporarily take the place of a missing tooth before the permanent crown is placed. A Flipper can be attached via either a wire or a plastic piece that fits in the roof of your mouth. Flippers are meant to be a temporary solution while awaiting the permanent crown.