Dental Crown Procedure: What is a Dental Crown / Cap?

Dental Crown Procedure: What is a Dental Crown / Cap?

Dental Crown Procedure: What Is a Dental Crown?

Have you ever been unable to fall asleep at night, staring at the ceiling and wondering what a dental crown was?  Maybe you’ve wondered what the difference between a crown and a cap was.  If so, this one’s for you!

Some teeth develop an unstable structure as a result of cavities or trauma (such as cracking a tooth.)  When a tooth has become broken down and is basically falling apart, sometimes a filling just won’t work.  Teeth that are broken down often need to get crowned or capped.

What’s the Difference Between Dental Crowns and Caps?

There really isn’t a difference between a crown or a cap.  A cap is simply a less technical name for a crown, kind of like chompers is a less technical name for teeth!

What is a Dental Crown?

A dental crown is like a glove that covers the tooth and holds it together, protecting it from further damage.

In order for a tooth to get a crown, the dentist will need to shave it down on all sides, take an impression of your teeth, send the impression to a lab, and have them make the crown.  In the meantime, the dentist will send you away with a temporary crown to wear.

That’s a simple written definition of a crown, but pictures are probably a lot easier to understand.  A little over a year ago, I was taking the first of three classes in making crowns and bridges.

Below you’ll find the crown I cut and the temporary crown I made for my first practical exam in that course.

What a Dental Crown Looks Like

Here’s what the tooth looks like before getting a crown.  I tried to photo-shop in a couple of cavities.  As you can see, the tooth is practically begging for a crown.

Dental Crown Tooth Before Being Prepared for Crown

Below, you can see what the tooth looks like after preparing it for a crown.  I cut around the whole buy xanax cheap tooth.  I had to cut away a specific amount of tooth (measured in tenths of a millimeter!) in order to do well on the practical exam.

Tooth Prepared for Dental Crown Cap

Below is the same tooth after being prepared.  This is what it looks like from the tongue side of the mouth.

Dental Crown Tooth Prepared Tongue Side View

In the picture below, you’ll see what the temporary crown looks like.

Tooth with a Temporary Crown

In case you are concerned about the lovely green color of this temporary crown, it is dyed that color for a purpose.  Our instructors have the students dye their crowns a different color each year to prevent upperclassmen from handing their old work down to classes below them.   Your temporary crown will match the color of your teeth, although it will not be quite as high-quality as the permanent crown since it is only intended to be used for a short period of time.

The next step would be to take an impression, pour it up in plaster and send that model off to the lab to have a permanent crown made.  I didn’t feel like footing the lab bill so that my plastic teeth could have a real crown, so there are no pictures of the permanent crown here.

Update: Extra Images of What a Dental Crown Is

Update 9/8/14: Now that I’m out of dental school I’m trying to spruce up the site a little more.  Here’s a few more images to demonstrate what happens when you get a dental crown:

Dental Crown Getting Cut

Dental crown getting tried on tooth and then cemented:

Dental Crown Getting Seated and Cemented


In summary, a crown simply covers the surface of the tooth to help protect it from further damage.

I hope that better explains to you what a dental crown is.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please leave them below in the comments section.  Thanks for reading!

Newer stock images of crowns ©Alex Mit/


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