The crown of a tooth is the part which is visible in the mouth. An artificial crown completely covers a damaged tooth above the gum line and protects it. Crowns can also improve the appearance of misshapen or discoloured teeth. Crowns are made of metal or porcelain, or porcelain with metal inside for strength. The colour and shape can be matched to your own teeth.
The dentist shapes the tooth so that there is room for the artificial crown to fit over the top. Preparation time will depend on how damaged the tooth is and whether it needs to be built up with a filling first.
The tooth might have to be root-filled first - this is sometimes called 'removing the nerve'. The crown is sometimes held in place by a peg in the root canal if a lot of the tooth is missing.
Your dentist will use a soft mouldable material to make an exact 'impressions' of the tooth that is to be crowned and the nearby teeth. A dental technician uses the impressions to make the crown the exact height and size needed.
A temporary crown made of plastic or metal is put over the tooth until the permanent crown is made. You can chew on a temporary crown but it won't be as strong as the finished one.
When the crown is ready, the temporary one is removed and the permanent one put it its place. The dentist will make small adjustments to make sure you can bite comfortably.