Dental Crown

What is a dental crown?

Female sitting in Bonita Springs dentist chair after getting dental crowns put on her teeth.A dental crown is an artificial tooth covering, or cap, that is positioned to cover a tooth, fill a gap, strengthen biting force, or improve a smile. Tooth crowns can be placed on problematic teeth to address the issues above or on healthy teeth to fill a void left by a missing/removed tooth. The crown can be made out of material such as metal alloys, ceramic, porcelain, composite resin, or a combination of these materials. Crowns can be used for both therapeutic and cosmetic treatment procedures.

Reasons for A Tooth Crown

Reasons an individual may need a dental crown developed and installed include the following:

  • Presence of a cavity too large to fill
  • A cover is necessary for a dental implant
  • A missing tooth requires a bridge
  • A structurally weakened tooth needs refortification
  • To reinvigorate badly misshapen or discolored teeth or other cosmetic enhancements
  • To protect the work of other tooth restoration procedures such as root canal treatment

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Dental Crown Placement Solutions

There are three main strategies for teeth crown placements. Two of the three strategies involve direct placement of the crown over the area designated for improvement. The third technique involves placing a dental crown on a tooth adjacent to the area that needs improvement.

  • The first direct placement method involves placing a crown on a tooth for restorative purposes. The reasons a dental crown may be established on a troubled tooth could be either therapeutic (due to cavities, weakness, or cracks and wear) or cosmetic (to fulfill a desired appearance).
  • The next direct placement technique consists of placing a tooth crown on a dental implant. Dental implant surgery is implemented to restore support and functionality that was lessened due to tooth loss. Once posts are implanted, they are topped with dental crowns that imitate real teeth in appearance and functionality. The artificial crowns placed on top the implants may be permanent or replaceable.
  • The third crown placement technique is the indirect strategy used for dental bridges. Unlike the other two techniques, the crowns are not placed on teeth that need renovations. A dental bridge is designed to fill the void left by a missing tooth or teeth. The tooth crowns, in this case, are placed on one or more healthy teeth located on either side of the vacancy.

Dental implant and teeth crown diagram explaining the procedureHow are teeth crowns placed?

Once the need for a dental crown has been established a dentist will prepare for crown installation by examining and preparing the tooth/teeth that will be capped. Crowns placed on natural teeth must fit snugly, be proportionate to surrounding teeth, and not affect your bite. To fulfill all the desired outcomes, the teeth may need to be reshaped to ideal shapes. Teeth are usually shaven down to fit within the crown, but may also need to be filled-in if too much of the tooth was removed while repairing the decay. Any and all decay or bacteria must be removed before placing the crown to ensure the quality and longevity of the insert.

Once the tooth is prepared, a mold is made of the tooth that will be covered. A custom crown will be created, but it will take two or three weeks to arrive and be placed. Due to the ordering of the custom creation, the full process usually takes two dentist visits. In the meantime, a temporary crown will be installed using a semi-permanent bonding adhesive. An individual should avoid exposure to really hot food and drinks or gum and other sticky substances in the location of the temporary crown. Once the permanent crown arrives at the dentist office, you will return to have it installed and cemented into place.

How long do tooth crowns last?

Dental crowns are expected to last between five and fifteen years. It is not unusual for a crown to last twenty to thirty years. It is even possible for crowns to last a lifetime. The longevity of your dental crown will depend or natural wear and tear, grinding or excessive use, accidental trauma, the type of food and drink exposure, oral care habits, and the exposure to plaque and bacteria. Crowns are built to withstand more abuse than the average tooth, but if you do your part to take care of your mouth the crowns may last even longer!

Two teeth with one of them that has the tooth crown removedDoes medicaid cover dental crowns?

The short answer is, it depends. Medicaid coverage for dental benefits and procedures varies from state to state. Florida is one of the states that does not have great Medicaid dental coverage for adults. However, coverage for persons under 21 years of age is pretty good in Florida. If you are covered by Medicaid and are less than 21 years old, then you will likely be able to have the costs of your crowns covered. If you are over 21 years of age, then it is significantly less likely that Medicaid insurance will cover crowns for you.

It should be noted that any wanted cosmetic procedure is not covered by Medicaid. Medicaid could possibly cover the cost of crowns if they were determined to be an emergency service and not a restorative one. I cannot imagine a situation where crowns are declared an emergency procedure but do not rule it out. Medicaid dental coverage in Florida does include full and partial dentures (including bridges). For more information on that please see our dentures page. 

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