Behind The Scenes: Dental Crown Fabrication
Fabricating a dental crown is a complex process. Dental crowns for our patients in and around Mint Hill can be made out of metal, ceramic (porcelain), plastics, or combinations of these.
Modern porcelain crowns are a technological and artistic marvel that make successful reconstructive and cosmetic dentistry possible. The accompanying picture shows three crowns attached to two implant posts. While the most advanced dental labs can’t make a tooth as strong as Mother Nature can, they are getting pretty darn close.
As far as beauty goes, today’s high-quality crowns are as pleasing and natural looking as real teeth.
To make a crown, a dental assistant makes an impression of all the patient’s teeth. This impression is sent to a laboratory, where the plaster teeth are separated. The individual tooth mold in need of restoration is scanned into a computer,providing the perfect dimensions to send to the factory.
The state-of-the-art factory has a computerized machine that pours plaster into cylindrical molds, resulting in blanks. Once hardened, the machine takes the scanned data from the impression and begins milling out the contours found in the scan. The finished tooth is not to scale, being 20% to 30% larger than necessary. This enlargement is to allow for material shrinkage that occurs later on.
Next, the machine dips the plastered tooth into liquid ceramic. The ceramic hardens and gives the tooth a gleaming, natural finish that is indistinguishable from a genuine tooth. The machine then orients the tooth with others. This time, ceramic powder is poured into new molds over the plaster tooth. The molds are put on a rod and plunged into a water-filled chamber. Once the chamber lid is closed, water pressure increases, solidifying each ceramic tooth.
The restoration is chiseled to perfectly match the plastered tooth that is inside. This tooth becomes the ceramic shell of the crown and is easily lifted off the plastered tooth.
This shell, or coping, is exposed to a high temperature for increased stability. It also shrinks to the proper size when exposed to the high temperature. Once finished, a plastic replica of the original tooth is created from the computer scan. The new shell is then tested for precise fitting over the tooth.
The shell then leaves the factory for the lab, where layers of colored porcelain are painted on it. A skilled ceramist – an artist in every sense of the word – may apply up to 15 layers of porcelain to perfectly match the variations in the surrounding teeth. This labor-intensive process accounts for much of the cost of a high-quality crown.
Finally, the crown is fired to make the porcelain more impenetrable. A little more hand may follow. Then it is finished with a clear, ceramic gloss.
All of this work results in an outstanding dental crown for one of our Mint Hill patients! If you have a broken tooth or an old, unattractive crown, call The Town Dental Group to discuss the possibilities. Other services for our Mint Hill area patients include checkups and cleanings. For cavities, we use white fillings.