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Shelley Shearer: Get the royal dental treatment with a crown to restore tooth’s function, appearance

You don’t have to be a king or queen to proudly wear a crown. Just ask your dentist.

A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth. Teeth that have more filling than tooth left are prime candidates. Basically, if a dental filling is 2/3 or more of the width of the tooth, that tooth has little support and can crack. And wow, will that ever hurt!

Crowns are used to restore a tooth’s function and appearance, especially when decay is advanced. Signs for requiring a crown may become obvious such as pain when biting down. That could mean a fractured tooth. Unlike a broken bone that can heal, a cracked tooth with a deep fracture never recovers on its own.
Dentists suggest crowns when you:

 Have a cavity that is too large for a filling

 Have a tooth that is cracked or worn down beyond the enamel

 Recently had root canal treatment where a crown can protect the dentist’s restorative handiwork

 Need to cover a dental implant

How Does It Work?

First, a tooth needs to be slightly reduced in size so the crown will fit over it. Then, thanks to the latest technology, crowns can now be manufactured in the dental office while you wait.

Most of us have invested in machines such as the CEREC. It stands for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics. It does all the work an outside lab used to do, instantly producing a crown while you sit comfortably in the office! You can now say goodbye to biting down on goo to make an impression, having to wear a temporary crown, waiting days or weeks for your permanent crown to come in, and making two or more trips to the dental office to achieve just the right fit. The ability to make a crown on the spot promises perfect positioning so that there is no irritation once you leave the office. That is certainly the royal treatment for our patients!

Dr. Shelly Shearer

The CEREC machine provides computerized 3-D technology. A tiny camera presents the digital image that is fed into a computer. Patients can even view it on a screen if they wish. Most amazing is that the crown can be milled in less than five minutes. Think of it like how an architect uses CAD equipment to make a 3-D image of a structure. In our case, it’s an image of your future smile.

While gold used to be the preferred material for a crown, it is costly. Other materials are just as strong and long-lasting– various metal alloys and ceramics. If the front tooth is the problem area, the crown can be made of material that color-blends with your natural teeth for a terrific, inconspicuous look.

Most people don’t realize that your little prince or princess may actually need a crown on baby teeth. Special little ones need a crown to:

 Protect the teeth of a child at high risk for tooth decay, especially when the child has a disability that prevents keeping up with daily oral hygiene

 Save a tooth that is so damaged that it can’t support a filling

 Assist a child who has a behavioral or unusual medical history that prevents proper dental care.

A quality crown can last decades with proper care. That means flossing in the area around the crown to ensure no plaque or debris settles around the restoration area. And brushing twice a day. Most dentists frown on patients munching on ice, nuts, hard candy or brittle foods. They can damage the crown.

Also tough on crowns are teeth grinding and jaw clenching. These challenges can be tackled with the latest dental appliances. Just ask your dentist. We have easy solutions and state-of-the art technology that can take care of these habits and save teeth.

Remember: it’s better to display your crown like royalty than to prolong the process, lose a tooth (or more) and either display a huge gap in the mouth or have to opt for a dental implant. Dental offices have come a long way in assisting fearful or procrastinating patients too. So what are you waiting for? It may be time to get crowned.

Dr. Shelley Shearer is a graduate of the University of Louisville Dental School and Founder of Shearer Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Florence, the largest all-female dental practice in Northern Kentucky.

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