At Merrell Smiles of Monroe, we provide quality dental crowns and dental crown restorations to our patients. Dr. Stephen Merrell has years of experience placing and restoring dental crowns. He has been placing 3 crowns a day for 18 years!
What are dental crowns?
A dental crown (or cap) is a covering that encases the entire tooth surface to restore it to its original shape and size. A crown protects and strengthens tooth structures that cannot be restored with fillings or other types of restorations.
When should I get a dental crown?
Dental crowns are used when teeth are broken, cracked, decayed, or fractured. Crowns are also used for large dental fillings, and after root canals. Dental crowns extend the life of the tooth.
In some situations, crowns can be preventive. For example, patients may have a large filling with recurrent decay underneath that can cause the teeth to crack. If the decay and crack are not treated, the patient is at risk of losing the tooth, which would require an extraction, implant and crown later on. A dental crown is a less invasive, less expensive option for preserving the tooth and the smile.
Benefits of dental crowns
Dental crowns resemble your natural teeth. They are highly durable and will last many years, but like most dental restorations, they may eventually need to be replaced.
Dr. Merrell uses three types of zirconia, all-white dental crowns. Zirconia dental crowns are made to match the shape, size, and color or your teeth giving you a natural, long-lasting beautiful smile. Below are details about the zirconia crowns Dr. Merrell uses in his Monroe, NC dental office:
- Full contour zirconia crowns: Full contour zirconia crowns are made out extremely hard and strong material - zirconium dioxide - so they withstand a lot of impact. These are extremely difficult to chip or break. Full contour zirconia crowns are used for second molars where there is little space between the opposite tooth when the patient bites down. When there is 0.9mm - 1.1mm of space between the teeth, Dr. Merrell uses full-contour zirconia.
- Full contour aesthetic zirconia crowns: When Dr. Merrell has a little more room between opposing teeth, he will use full contour aesthetic zirconia dental crowns. These crowns are still very strong.
- E-MAX dental crowns: E-MAX dental crowns are for the interior teeth. They're made out of lithium disilicate and look the most natural and life-like.
Does Dr. Merrell use metal crowns?
Dr. Merrell does not use metal crowns. PFM or Porcelain-Fused-Metal crowns will often show a dark line at the gum line, which makes patients wonder if they have tooth decay. Usually the thin porcelain is just showing the metal underneath, and there's no need for concern. However, Dr. Merrell prefers to use zirconia dental crowns because they're stronger and more aesthetically pleasing than metal crowns.
What does getting a crown involve?
A crown procedure usually requires two appointments.
The first crown appointment will take about an hour and fifteen minutes. Dr. Merrell will take a mold of the patient's teeth by placing impression material in the top and bottom of a dental tray and asking the patient to bite and hold for three minutes. This impression will be sent to a dental lab to create your custom crown.
Fun fact: Dr. Merrell has been working with the same dental lab technician for 15 years. The technician is a Master Certified Dental Technician trained in the military who works exclusively with Dr. Merrell to place highly detailed, highly accurate crowns and implants for patients.
Once Dr. Merrell takes a dental impression at the first appointment, he sends the impression to the Certified Dental Technician who pours the impression over a stone model to mimic the bite. The CDT will trim the tooth on the stone model. If the tech trims too much, the crown will not fit properly. However, Dr. Merrell works with an expert technician who gets the crowns to match the tooth almost perfectly every time! Dr. Merrell believes that working with an expert technician is what sets his crowns apart from the competition and enables him to provide quality, well-fitting dental crowns to his patients. It takes about two weeks for the lab to make the final dental crown.
For large dental cases, Dr. Merrell will take impressions before any dental work is done and send the impressions to the lab for custom temporary crowns and bridges. That way, when the initial prep work is done for the patient, he already has the custom temporary crowns to give the patient so they can have the instant gratification of seeing how their new smile looks!
After the dental impression is done, Dr. Merrell will prepare the tooth by removing any decay and shaping the surface to properly fit the crown. Once these details are accomplished, your temporary crown will be placed with temporary cement and your bite will be checked to ensure you are biting properly.
At your second appointment your temporary crown will be removed, the tooth will be cleaned, and your new crown will be carefully placed to ensure the spacing and bite are accurate. Dr. Merrell will take a bite wing x-ray to make sure the crown has fully seated onto the tooth. If the crown isn't full seated, Dr. Merrell will adjust the contact between the teeth and take another x-ray. This ensures that there won't be any tooth decay.
After your final crown is placed, you will be given care instructions and encouraged to have regular dental visits to check your new crown.
If you're interested in getting a dental crown from an expert dentist who focuses on quality and takes the time to do things right, call Merrell Smiles of Monroe to schedule your consultation!