What is a crown?
A crown is a dental restoration that goes over a patient’s existing tooth to cover the tooth and restore its shape, size, strength, and to improve its appearance. A crown, when cemented into place, fully encases the entire visible portion of the tooth that lies at and above the gum line.
Patients may need a crown put on a tooth for a variety of reasons. These include: a tooth that has a large amount of decay, is cracked or broken to the point that the tooth will fall apart due to the damage, a tooth that has recently undergone root canal therapy, or for esthetic improvement.
While crowns are durable, they are not indestructible. Most crowns last between 5-15 years. Various factors affect the life of a crown. These include biting hard objects repeatedly, bruxism (clenching or grinding of the teeth), dental hygiene habits (brushing and flossing), dietary choices (biting hard foods such as ice, hard candies, and nuts), and regular dental check-ups.
Though a crown itself cannot decay, cavities can still form underneath if proper oral hygiene routine are not maintained. Depending on the condition of the crown and extent of decay, a replacement could be necessary. If decay is not take care of properly, a root canal might be required.
What is a CEREC crown?
CEREC stands for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics. The method utilizes CAD/CAM or computer-aided design/computer aided manufacturing to create a crown that perfectly fits your damaged tooth. Dr. Goodwin will use the CAD/CAM technology to take images of your teeth. The images are used to create a digital model of your teeth to fit the crown. The CEREC crown is milled from a ceramic block based on the CAD/CAM model, then perfectly shaded to match your natural teeth, and bonded to your tooth.
With CEREC crown technology, you can have a crown on your damaged tooth in just one appointment. A CEREC crown can quickly help you regain your confidence and bring your smile back to its original glow.
What are the benefits of CEREC crowns?
- A CEREC crown looks and feels like a real tooth!
- A crown that is strong!
- No messy impressions!
- A crown that fits perfectly every time!
- No waiting for the lab to create the tooth!
- No temporary crown that might break or fall off!
- No numb lips and gums for a second appointment!
- No second co-pay (for those with a co-pay per visit insurance)!
- No dark lines at the gumline from a porcelain fused to metal crown!
- No second appointment- no need to take off work or school multiple times!
Are CEREC crowns more expensive?
CEREC crowns cost the same as traditional crowns, but it requires one less visit which could save you an extra co-pay. CEREC crowns are covered by dental insurance, but the level depends on your provider. You can speak with your insurance provider about how much of the procedure they will cover before you decide on a CEREC crown.
Traditional vs. CEREC crown process:
Traditional crowns can be made of a variety of materials such as all metal (stainless steel, titanium, or gold), full porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, zirconia or porcelain fused to zirconia. Due to the nature of the different materials used, traditional crowns may or may not look like a normal tooth. Many older crowns that had porcelain fused to metal display a dark line at the gumline.
Before CEREC technology, patients required at least two visits to the dentist. The first visit was the preparation appointment where tooth was numbed, filed down, and prepared for a crown. Multiple alginate impressions (trays with soft material that are placed on the teeth) were taken in the appointment and models were created in dental stone. The models were sent to a lab and the lab created the crown out of the desired material. A temporary crown was created in acrylic and the patient was rescheduled for a follow-up appointment in two or three weeks. In the interim, the lab made the crown based on the impressions. At the follow-up appointment, the area was numbed again, and the crown was cemented in place.
The disadvantages of traditional crowns were the following:
- Two appointments- this required the patient to get off work or school two separate times.
- Two sessions where the patient needed to get numb.
- Alginate impressions: the alginate impressions were messy, caused patients to gag or wretch, and had to be made of all of the mouth.
- A temporary crown while the lab made the crown. Due to the nature of the temporary crown, they could fall off or break easily if the patient chewed sticky or hard substances.
- Wait time- it took two to three weeks for the final restoration to be cemented on the tooth.
- The possibility that the crown did not fit correctly. This was due to error in impressions and creation of the crown in the lab. The crown needed to be altered or remade.
CEREC crowns only require one appointment. All CEREC crowns are made from ceramic and can be used for severely decayed, misshapen or broken teeth just like a traditional crown. Dr. Goodwin will still take digital x-rays of your teeth, numb the tooth area, and file your tooth the same way they would for a traditional crown.
For the CEREC crown process, Dr. Goodwin will do the following after the initial crown preparation:
- Use an intraoral scanner to take photos of your teeth and create a digital impression (no alginate impressions)
- The impression is sent to the CAD/CAM software machine that then creates a digital tooth restoration.
- The finished restoration is sent to a milling machine that creates the physical crown out of a ceramic block. This process only takes up to 15 minutes.
- Dr. Goodwin fires the crown in an oven to obtain the hard, porcelain finish.
- The crown is cemented on permanently at the end of the appointment.
- You leave with the final crown in the same appointment.
How do I take care of my teeth after I get a CEREC crown?
Your crowned tooth may be sensitive for a few days after the procedure. Try to avoid sticky or chewy foods right after your crown is placed. Continue brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing once a day. Dr. Goodwin might also recommend fluoride mouthwash to better clean your teeth or a sensitivity toothpaste to help curb hot and cold sensitivity. It’s important to continue good dental hygiene as crowned teeth are still susceptible to decay near the gum line. Continuing your relationship with us by keeping up with your semi-annual cleanings and exams will aid in prolonging a lifelong healthy smile.