Historically, Dentists would prepare your tooth for a Dental Crown, take an impression, and book you for a crown delivery weeks later. During the intervening 2 week period, a dental laboratory would make your custom crown using impressions from your first appointment. However, a new technology (CEREC) allows Dentists to make their crowns "in-house" or in their office. Patients love this because they get 2 appointments worth of Dentistry take care of in 1 visit. But, it might not always be the best option for you. So, this week, let's look at some information about dental crowns, figure out what's best for you, and figure out how many appointments it should take to get a Dental Crown!
Some Dentists have purchased machines that can make custom crowns in 1-2 hours at their office. This is truly amazing technology. But, there are limitations. These machines can make all-porcelain and tooth-coloured zirconia crowns, but they cannot make Porcelain-Fused-Metal (PFM) crowns. This is important to know because PFM crowns have been the most durable option for premolar and molar crowns for a long time. So, if you place an all-porcelain or zirconia crown on a premolar or molar, that crown will be less durable. It will also be less fracture-resistant compared to the standard of care, a PFM crown.
When you choose to have your dental crown made by a dental laboratory, you retain the flexibility to have that crown make of the best material for the job! If that happens to be gold, you can do it. If it's porcelain-fused-to-metal for a molar tooth, you can do it. You lose flexibility to choose the strongest material when your crown is made right there in the dental office. So keep that in mind.
Additionally, a Dental Lab Technician can custom-shade your dental crown to match neighbouring teeth. This is especially important for patients that have teeth where different regions have a different shade. It is also important for patients that have characteristic markings on their teeth. Dental crowns made by an "in-house" crown milling machine are less able to add subtle features to your crown.
Years ago, I reached a point where I had enough patients to merit purchasing a machine to make in-office crowns. And yet, I never bought one. The reason is that, if I was providing crowns made of the proper material for a given situation (i.e. PFM crowns on every molar that needed a crown), the economics no longer made sense. Did I want to make every crown from porcelain so that purchasing a crown-milling machine was a good financial decision? Well, I still don't own a CEREC crown-milling unit. I use a dental laboratory to make my crowns. This gives me the flexibility to choose the best material for any given case.
So, ultimately, you can have your dental crown made in a single appointment. In some cases, you will still get a crown made of an appropriate material for the circumstances. And, there will be value in the convenience of having your crown after only one appointment! In other cases, however, you may get something of insufficient durability because that's all that can be made with the "crown-making machine". Under those circumstances, it might have been better for your to make 2 trips to the Dentist to get a durable crown made by a local Dental Lab.
If you'd like to read more about Dental Crowns, please visit my Definitive Guide to Dental Crowns.
You can also find useful information about Dental Crowns on the Canadian Dental Association's website, here.
Thank you for reading!
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Kitchener Dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a dental condition or treatment.