Crowned with a Porcelain Crown

Yesterday I had a tooth crowned, and it was like stepping into the future. I have a bunch of gold crowns already, because in years past, gold crowns were cheaper and more durable than porcelain. Well, those days are gone. So is the month-long wait for the crown to be made, while you hope the temporary doesn’t come off—or if it does, that you don’t swallow it or choke on it.

Also gone are the rubbery molds used to take an impression for casting. This time, the good folks at Belmont Dental took a digital scan of my teeth, before and after grinding away the old tooth. Then, using a graphics program on the computer, they generated a 3D representation of the new crown over what was left of the old tooth. This picture shows the final image; the white “tooth” is the proposed crown.

Crown depicted by computer before creation

And this is where things get cool. Once the image is finalized, we take a walk down the hall to where the milling machine sits on a counter. It’s about the size of a big printer. The technician inserts a small, oblong block of ceramic material. And then the milling machine goes to town. It takes twelve minutes and thirty seconds for the little grinders to carve a perfect new crown from the computer image. Here it is at work:

Crown being milled out of ceramic block1

And here is the result, before trying it on for size. The material is purple before it’s fired.

Crown before baking

Test, bake, and glue. And that’s pretty much it. I didn’t even have time to do much reading in the waiting room. Two and half hours after walking into the dentist’s office, I walked out with the finished crown in my mouth. I like the future!


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