Everything You Need to Know About Dental Crowns


A versatile way to improve and protect your oral health.

Even if you’ve never needed a dental crown, you’ve likely heard them mentioned before. After all, dental crowns are one of the most common restorative dentistry treatments, so you probably know someone who has one. If you’ve never needed one before, however, you may not know much about them. To help you understand this versatile treatment so you can make the best decision for your oral health, we’ve put together a guide containing everything you need to know about dental crowns.

What’s a dental crown?

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped restoration that is placed over your natural tooth to protect it and restore its function. It’s often used to restore a tooth’s appearance as well, but this depends on the material that’s used to make it. Dental crowns can be made from metal, resin, porcelain, or porcelain-fused-to-metal. Metal crowns are strong and durable but very visible in your mouth and can expand or contract with changing temperatures, sometimes damaging your tooth or causing the crown to fail over time. Resin crowns are inexpensive but more vulnerable to damage and wear over the years. Porcelain crowns can match the color and gloss of your natural teeth, ensuring your new crown blends in with your smile, but they do cost more than some other options. Crowns made from porcelain-fused-to-metal gain some of the added strength of the metal while gaining a lot of the benefits of porcelain crowns, but a dark line of metal may become visible at your gum line over time.

Why would I need a dental crown?

The most well-known use of crowns is to restore teeth that have suffered extensive decay. When you have a severe cavity or infection in your tooth, a root canal and crown are often the only way to save it. The crown also works to protect your tooth from future decay. This isn’t the only use for crowns, however—they’re a surprisingly versatile treatment that can address a wide range of issues. You may need a crown to protect a weak tooth or restore a tooth that has been severely broken, cracked, or worn down. In these instances, crowns restore the function and appearance of your tooth while protecting it from future damage. Porcelain, porcelain-fused-to-metal, and resin crowns can also be used for cosmetic reasons to restore the appearance of misshapen, slightly crooked, or permanently discolored teeth and are often secured to implants to replace a single missing tooth.

What’s the placement process like?

Generally, getting a crown takes two appointments over the course of several weeks. During your first appointment, Dr. Tomasik will numb your mouth and prepare your tooth by shaving it down so that the crown will fit over it. If you need a root canal treatment, he will also take care of that at this stage of your treatment. Next, Dr. Tomasik will take a mold of your teeth, which will be sent to an outside lab to make your permanent crown, and place a temporary crown on your tooth. You’ll arrive for a second appointment in a few weeks, once your permanent crown has arrived at our office. This appointment is much simpler, involving Dr. Tomasik numbing your mouth before replacing your temporary crown with your permanent one. He’ll check your bite to make sure it lines up naturally, make adjustments if he needs to, and cement your new crown permanently into place before sending you home.

What is a same day crown and how does the treatment process differ with this kind of crown?

A same day crown is a porcelain crown that can be designed, milled, and placed permanently in your mouth in just a single appointment. They’re made from the same porcelain material as other porcelain crowns, so they’re just as durable and stain-resistant. The treatment process is quick and easy. In just a single visit, Dr. Tomasik will prepare your tooth by shaving it down before using our CEREC PrimeScan system to take a digital scan of your teeth instead of a putty impression. This scan is quick and easy. Dr. Tomasik simply passes a wand about the size of an electric toothbrush over your teeth to scan them. The result is a 3D digital model of your teeth and bite that’s more accurate than a putty impression. Dr. Tomasik uses this model to design a crown that will fit naturally and comfortably into your bite. Once it’s designed, Dr. Tomasik will mill your single-visit crown right in our lab and place it on your tooth. Just like with other crowns, he’ll check your bite to ensure it fits perfectly before he cements it permanently in place.

How long do dental crowns last?

The predicted lifespan of your dental crown will depend on a couple of factors, including the material it’s made of and how well you care for it. If you take good care of them, porcelain, ceramic (including the same day CEREC crowns), and porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns generally last around 15 years before they need to be replaced, while metal crowns can last around 20 years. However, longevity isn’t about material alone. Porcelain and ceramic crowns can actually last longer than metal crowns if the dentist uses techniques and technology to create a better fit on your tooth. This is why many dentists today prefer these more modern materials in some instances.

To take care of your crown and ensure that it lasts as long as possible, you should make a habit of practicing great oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, floss at least once a day, and use mouthwash according to the directions on the label. Additionally, actions like chewing ice, cracking nuts, or tearing packages open with your teeth can damage natural teeth, so they also risk damaging your crown.

How much do they cost?

There are a number of factors that impact the cost of your crown, including the material it’s made from, which of your teeth needs the crown, and how much of the cost your insurance covers. When you schedule a consultation with Dr. Tomasik at our Lakeway dentist office, we’ll provide you with an estimate for the cost of your crown as well as how much your dental insurance is likely to cover.

With such a high success rate and a wide range of applications, it’s easy to see why dental crowns are a popular dental treatment. They’re often the only way to save severely damaged teeth, which is always better for your oral health, and can help you restore the appearance, health, and function of your teeth. If you’d like to learn more about dental crowns in the Bee Cave area, feel free to call our office and schedule a consultation with Dr. Tomasik at any time.