7 Facts about Dental Crowns (or ‘caps’)

We often get asked the following questions and the chances are that you’ve thought of a few already, so why not take a look below:

  1. I’ve been told I have ‘Over-filled’ teeth-What does this mean?
  2. Are Overfilled teeth a problem?
  3. How do these problems happen?
  4. Are Crowns the Solution?
  5. What are Crowns?
  6. What are Crowns made from?
  7. What if I do nothing?

1. I’ve been told I have ‘Over-filled’ teeth-What does this mean?

Heavily filled or ‘overfilled’ teeth are those where the amount of ‘filling’ is far greater compared to the volume of natural tooth that remains (more filling than tooth basically).

2. Are Overfilled teeth a problem?

Overfilled metal fillings can often be extremely large and unsightly, but there are 2 far more important long term risks to consider:

  1. Overfilled teeth, especially those with very large metal fillings are more highly susceptible to unexpected infections.
  2. Overfilled teeth have a higher risk of chipping, fracturing or breakages occurring.

We see a lot of new patients attending with big, old metal fillings which they tell us are getting regularly infected or have simply broken down and chipped due to old age or structural stress.

3. How do these problems happen?

  • Metal fillings expand and contract over the years as you bite and chew and as they experience moisture, heat and cold.
  • Structural cracks can develop at the metal filling/tooth junction due to the ongoing stress on metal over time.
  • Over time, corrosion and micro-cracks appear in the natural tooth immediately surrounding the metal, causing larger cracks, fractures and unexpected breakages.
  • Eventually the seal between the tooth and the filling can break down allowing commensal bacteria normally present in the mouth to gradually seep into the deeper tooth pulp layer.
  • This leads to unexpected infection occurring in the tooth (often referred to as a ‘ticking time bomb’).

In summary, overfilled teeth can create a very unpredictable and unstable situation.

For better stability and improved long term control of your mouth, the risk posed by overfilled teeth can be significantly reduced with crowns.

4. Are Crowns the Solution?

Yes! If you have an overfilled tooth, or a broken or worn tooth already, the tooth will need structural protection with a dental crown (sometimes called a ‘cap’). Here are the main benefits:

  1. Crowns can protect heavily filled teeth from becoming unexpectedly cracked or fractured.
  2. Crowns can reduce the chance of unexpected infections.
  3. Crowns can restore the strength, shape and ‘chewability’ (the function) of the tooth.

Crowns will help to stabilise unpredictable situations such as this, enabling you to preserve your teeth for longer.

5. What are Crowns?

Crowns (sometimes called ‘caps’) are essentially a thin 1-2mm prosthetic tooth ‘shell’ that surrounds the entire circumference and biting surfaces of a tooth (and filling), strengthening and protecting the remaining tooth and filling underneath. The edge of a crown will normally finish flush with the gum edge, making it appear completely natural.

6. What are Crowns made from?

Crowns in general can be made from a range of materials: from gold mixed with metal alloy, to natural looking dental ceramics.

The material we recommend for your crown will depend on a number of factors in your individual case. For example, where the crown will sit in your mouth (how much strength is needed on the bite), how much tooth preparation will be needed and whether the crown is going to be visible or not.

‘Cosmetic’ crowns are metal free and are made using a strong natural looking dental ceramic material.

7. What if I do nothing?

People often say that if you’re getting no pain or any actual symptoms/problems from any tooth, why not just leave it?

You could, however for overfilled teeth long term prevention is better than having to deal with unexpected problems in the future.

We always encourage all of our patients to think about their mouths in this way, with the long term in mind.

Without a crown, any tooth with a very large metal filling poses 2 main risks:

  • A high risk of unexpected breakage, possibly beyond repair
  • A risk of becoming infected

Sadly, in some cases, a heavily filled tooth that is left too long will need to be removed if any breakage or fracture is too complex to resolve. Similarly, an infected tooth risks needing further complex treatment or it will need to be removed.

Our Recommendations:

  • Choose to protect any ‘overfilled’ teeth (teeth very large metal fillings) with a crown/cap before problems occur.
  • If you do get a breakage or small chip you should see a dentist to resolve it as soon as possible before the breakage gets bigger or before it becomes unrepairable or infected.

In the long term, would you prefer to be in better control, with a predictable mouth?

At Kenilworth Dental Practice, we offer crowns on the NHS (Band 3 treatment) as well as Privately.

Click here to see NHS Dental prices.

Click here to see our Private Prices.

Please contact us for further information.

Creating an Authentic, Natural look with Cosmetic Crowns & Veneers

Dr Kachhala says, ‘As well as being strong and durable, my ceramic cosmetic crowns and veneers appear much more natural and authentic because I take the time to carefully introduce differing shades and opacities in different areas of the same tooth, because this is actually what occurs naturally in tooth enamel. We also add natural light translucencies, other subtle tooth characteristics and delicate opalescences, all of which come together to mimic the tone of a natural tooth much more realistically. Gone are the days when a dental crown or veneer looks completely monochromatic and plain. This isn’t what occurs in real life and I take great pride in trying to mimic nature artistically!

‘The final colour that we actually see when we look at a cosmetic crown or veneer, is made up of a combination of 3 things-The colour & characteristics of the crown or veneer, the colour of the final cement underneath and finally the colour of the natural tooth under that. We take a lot of care to ensure that all this detailed information is carefully communicated to our excellent laboratory.’

What happens when we make a crown?

You will actually require at least 4 visits to have a cosmetic crown properly made and fitted, but here is a brief summary of the main stages. During your main preparation appointment, we will carefully and painlessly shape your damaged or heavily filled tooth to make space for the crown ‘shell’ thickness and we will also take impressions. Before you leave, we will fit a temporary or ‘prototype’ crown while your final crown is being manufactured, so that you still have something to bite and chew on. The impressions are sent to our skilled dental technician, who will then custom make the crown by hand. This process typically takes around 2-3 weeks.

Once your crown is ready, you will need to return for the fitting appointment. We will gently remove your temporary crown and carefully check the fit of your finished crown. Once we are happy with how it looks and feels, we will cement or bond the crown to your tooth. At that stage, we will carry out some final checks and some minor adjustments, if necessary.

If you need multiple crowns due to multiple large or broken overfilled teeth, there will be additional phases to your treatment and we would explain it all fully in the early assessment and treatment planning stages so you’ll know what to expect.