Dental crowns are specially designed protective caps that are put over the natural tooth. They are used to:
- Improve cosmetics (colour, alignment)
- Protect the remaining tooth structure from weakening and eventually breaking off
- Reconstruct the bite when the teeth have been worn or broken down.
Why do I need a crown? Can’t it just be a filling?
This is the most common question I get asked. Especially since fillings are relatively inexpensive and quick, as opposed to dental crowns that are costly and require multiple visits.
Fillings rely on the existing tooth structure to stay in. There is a limit as to how big a filling can be put in a tooth. Very large fillings not only offer zero support to what’s left of the tooth but can in fact put the tooth at risk of further fracture. Large filling have a tendency to break often and wear extensively (due to material weakness) and require to be re-done.
In addition, fillings are built directly in the mouth, so there is limited access to the in between teeth surfaces, which often means it is technically impossible to build nice smooth contacts between the teeth eventually leading to food traps, decay and gum disease.
Dental crowns on the other hand offer protection to tooth structure preventing fractures that are often catastrophic and result in tooth loss. Crowns last a very long time, often staying unchanged and not requiring any maintenance for 20-30 years or longer.
An experienced dentist can assess when it’s time for a tooth to have a crown. A number of factors are involved in this decision eg. the size of the filling in the tooth, presence of fracture lines seen under microscope or the mechanical loading the tooth is put under.
In most cases you do. Endodontic treatments weaken the tooth significantly, putting it at risk of fractures. Putting a filling in when a crown is required will likely cause failure of the root treatment as bacteria can easily re-enter the root canal system if the tooth is not protected by a crown.
What does crown treatment involve?
It takes two appointments two weeks apart. In the first (longer) visit we prepare the tooth by shaping it a certain way and then take a few moulds of your teeth. Our premium Australian dental laboratory, RWD Dental Image, then manufactures a crown to fit your bite. In the second visit we double check that the fit of the crown and make sure you are happy with the look of it, then we cement it permanently in your mouth. Often this final visit will not require any local anaesthetic.
What are the costs?
Dental crown costs in Sydney vary widely from $900 to $4000 for a single unit.
The differences are determined by:
- The experience and credentials of the treating dentist.
- The chosen material for the crown
- The laboratory where the crown is manufactured. Offshore labs mass produce cheap crowns using substandard materials.
- The complexity of treatment. Crowns on front teeth, particularly if it’s a single front tooth, tend to be more difficult to colour match increasing the demands on the ceramist and increasing laboratory costs.
- The number of crowns done at the same visit (often discounts are given for multiple cases)