A crown is a type of dental restoration that, when cemented into place, fully cups over that portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line. Since it encases the entire visible aspect of a tooth, a dental crown, in effect, becomes the tooth's new outer surface. In comparison, dental fillings are restorations that fill in or patch just a portion of a tooth. Other terms that are used to refer to crowns are "dental caps" and "tooth caps".

Crowns can be made out of porcelain, metal (a gold or other metal alloy), or a combination of both (porcelain-fused-to-metal).

It's not too hard to envision how a dental crown might be used to restore, or even improve, a tooth's shape. A dentist might recommend placing a crown on a tooth for:

  • Restoring or making changes to a tooth's shape
  • Strengthening the tooth
  • Improving the cosmetic appearance of the tooth

Dental crowns are fabricated in a dental laboratory using the impression your dentist has made of your tooth after having prepared it. Using the impression, a lab technician can visualize and examine all aspects of your bite and jaw movements. Because dental crowns encase the visible portion of a tooth, any porcelain crown (all-ceramic or porcelain-fused-to-metal ones) can be used to enhance the cosmetic appearance of a tooth.

Anterior crown

The tooth is prepared and an impression taken. A crown is made from the impression and fitted to the tooth.

click to enlarge and play

Posterior crown

The tooth is prepared. A crown is made and fitted to the tooth.

click to enlarge and play