If only the dentist had a crystal ball you could look into to see just how much better your smile would look if your teeth weren't cracked, missing or discolored. It might help you realize how important something like a dental crown could be for your appearance -- and your self-esteem.
Although your dentist can't see into the future, he or she can give you a sneak peek into what your smile might look like after cosmetic and restorative procedures. Many cosmetic dentists offer what's called computer imaging. This technology creates "before" and "after" pictures of you with and without recommended treatments. That comes in handy when you're trying to decide if the expense and time involved with a procedure such as a dental crown is actually worth it.
Imaging for Dental Crowns
Dental crowns are commonly used in combination with other cosmetic dentistry techniques such as veneers and teeth whitening to create a smile makeover. The process of computer imaging for dental crowns is very simple. Your cosmetic dentist will take images of your face, teeth and smile using a digital camera. These images are scanned into a computer, then software is used to manipulate the images to show you how you might look after placement of a dental crown.
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap customized to cover the entire surface of a tooth. Dental crowns are used to:
- Protect a weak tooth from breaking or hold together parts of a cracked tooth
- Restore an already broken tooth
- Cover and support a tooth with a large tooth filling
- Cover discolored teeth, dental implants or a root canal
- Hold a dental bridge in place
A dental crown is placed on your tooth not only to restore your tooth's appearance, but also its function. Permanent dental crowns can be made from one of several types of materials, including:
- Metals such as gold, nickel or chromium
- Porcelain fused to metal
- All ceramic or all porcelain
- All resin
Each substance has its pros and cons. Some dental crowns can be color matched to look like other nearby teeth but might not be as strong as other materials. That makes deciding which is best for you a challenge. The good news is your cosmetic dentist can help! And computer imaging for dental crowns may allow you to visualize how each material might impact your smile. The type of dental crown you ultimately choose will likely depend on several factors such as the location of the affected tooth and cost.
More Than Just a Pretty Picture
Computer imaging for dental crowns is the first step in the restorative process. Once you and your dentist decide which type of dental crown is best for you, your dentist will need to prepare the tooth and place the dental crown. This usually takes two visits to complete, unless your dentist uses a dental tool such as CEREC®, which can prepare a dental crown in a single visit.
Computer imaging for crowns should be used merely as a guide to help you envision what you might look like after dental treatment. The real thing may be different from a picture. But the process of computer imaging allows you to start a conversation with your dentist about the way you'd like your smile to look and the procedures that might help get you there.