For many decades now, dentists have offered crowns as a way of preserving a badly damaged or decayed tooth. General dentistry focused on restoring the strength of the tooth with only minimal concerns for creating a natural or attractive appearance.
As a cosmetic dentist, Dr. Greenhalgh offers porcelain crowns which look like healthy real teeth.
Getting a Crown for Your Tooth
Before going ahead with any tooth crown procedure, Dr. Greenhalgh will first present you with a clear explanation as to why this treatment is necessary, often using a digital photo of your tooth to show you the problem. He’ll listen to your concerns, answer questions, and explain how the procedure is done. Your comfort is always our priority.
Whether they’re made of gold or porcelain, the purpose of a dental crown is typically the same: to protect and reinforce a damaged tooth. A crown is a customized cap which fits over the cleaned and reinforced tooth core. Frequently a tooth that requires a crown also requires a "build up" to properly seal and reinforce the inner part of the tooth.
As the field of cosmetic dentistry has expanded and grown in recent years, new and improved dental materials have been developed. Dental porcelain is one of those, and it comes in an array of shades.
Dr. Greenhalgh will choose a shade to match your natural tooth color. If you are interested in a tooth whitening procedure, you should have it before the crown, so that he can match the porcelain to your new color. An advantage of porcelain is that it doesn’t change color over time.
The best dental porcelain has subtle variations of color, as tooth enamel does. The outside of an all-porcelain crown uses this top-level porcelain and the inside is lined with another type of dental porcelain which adds strength to the crown. It is often made of zirconia, which you may recognize as a diamond substitute.
Porcelain and tooth enamel are both semi-translucent. In other words, both of them reflect some light and absorb some, and both have a pearly glow as a result. When you have an all-porcelain crown, your tooth acquires strong white surfaces all around it which replace the damaged old enamel surfaces. Only you and Dr. Greenhalgh would know it was a crown. The main advantage of this type of crown is that it has no dark line at the edge.
Another way to strengthen a porcelain crown is by giving it a metal lining instead of a porcelain lining. The outside surfaces are matched to your natural tooth color and the inside metal surface cannot be seen. The main reason we use these crowns is for their strength.
As we age, the gums gradually shrink. Slowly the metal lining becomes visible where before gum tissue had concealed it. It appears as a black streak near the gumline. If you’re beginning to see darkness at the edge of your old crowns, ask us about options for a more cosmetic or all-porcelain crown.
Although gold does not match our tooth enamel, gold crowns are still placed on back teeth where the chewing forces are heaviest. They provide an excellent restoration. The gold crown provides a strong chewing surface and can last from 5 to 25 years. It is slightly softer than tooth enamel and may eventually be worn through and need replacing.
Porcelain Inlays and Onlays
Sometimes a tooth will have a large cavity or crack, but not enough damage to require a dental crown. Yet it requires more strength than a filling would provide. This is when a porcelain inlay or onlay can be done.
- An inlay is a specially designed piece of porcelain small enough to fit within the tooth’s cusps. It’s used in situations where more strength or a tighter fit is necessary and is an alternative to a white filling.
- An onlay is also a specially designed piece of porcelain and is used to rebuild a large portion of the tooth. When a tooth has a major problem and would ordinarily have a full tooth crown made for it, an onlay can be an alternative. An advantage of the onlay is that it can preserve much of your natural enamel while giving back important strength to your tooth. This is typically the most aesthetic way to repair a tooth, creating a virtually undetectable result.
The Inlay/Onlay Procedure
If porcelain is used to rebuild your tooth, it requires two steps.
- At the first appointment, the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and an impression is made. You will leave that day with a temporary inlay or onlay. The porcelain is then fabricated by our ceramicist in our in-house dental lab.
- The second appointment is to properly fit and bond the porcelain to your tooth. This makes it a part of the tooth and it holds the tooth together. A tooth repaired in this way is almost as strong as if it had never had a cavity or crack and is now preserved for a lifetime.
To schedule a individualized consultation to discuss dental crowns with Dr. Greenhalgh, please call 303-988-9060 or email our cosmetic dentistry office today. We serve Denver, Lakewood, and nearby areas in Colorado.