What are dental caps?
In human dentistry, a dental cap refers to a type of tooth repair or restoration that covers the tooth. In veterinary dentistry these restorations are called crowns. The crown becomes the tooth’s outer surface. A filling, on the other hand, only repairs a small part of the tooth usually affected by a cavity or defect.
How do I know if my dog needs a crown?
Veterinary dentists often recommend crowns after root canal therapy is performed to protect broken teeth (right) from further trauma. Crowns are also used as a second layer of defense in cases where protective enamel is not present due to wear or congenital disease that causes part of the enamel not to form (enamel hypoplasia). The crown acts as armor around the outside of the tooth for protection. It does not strengthen the tooth.
Which teeth are usually crowned?
While any tooth can be crowned, the most common teeth to receive crowns are the canine or front fang teeth. The second most commonly crowned teeth are the upper fourth premolar teeth used to cut food into small pieces before swallowing.
Will the crown be the same size and color as the original tooth?
In situations where the crown is used to cover a broken tooth that has been repaired, the crown will cover the remaining tooth, not make the tooth longer. Having a shorter tooth will not inhibit normal chewing or biting activities. Where the crown is used to replace missing enamel, the tooth will appear normal sized.
The crown needs to withstand the rigors of daily chewing and play. Metallic crowns composed of titanium, chromium, and stainless steel are most commonly used. They will be shiny and silver colored (left). Thicker tooth-colored crowns can also be made, but require removal of more of the underlying tooth.
How are crowns made?
The tooth to be crowned must be reduced in size to accommodate the thickness of the crown. The tooth will be reshaped and with a margin so that the crown will fit perfectly. An impression is made of the tooth that needs the crown, along with the surrounding upper and lower teeth. From the impression, a stone model is made and sent to a human dental lab to fabricate the crown. Once the crown is received at your veterinarian’s office, your dog must return to be anesthetized in order to place the crown on the tooth. It is secured in place with proper dental materials.
How long are crowns expected to last?
Under normal wear the crown should last for your dog’s lifetime. If your dog chews on very hard objects or gets into fights, the crown may fall off and it is possible that underlying tooth can be damaged. It is also possible that if excessive stress is placed on the crowned tooth that the crown and tooth within it will break off. If the crown falls off and the underlying tooth is still intact the crown can be reapplied.
Do crowns require special care?
Yes, crowns do require special care. Daily tooth brushing or wiping with specialized wipes are recommended to remove plaque and tartar. Care to avoid chewing on hard chew toys including nylon bones, antlers, horse hoofs, and ice cubes is important.