What Is the Dentist Doing When Seating My Crown?

“Tap tap tap and now hold.”
Have you ever wondered why your dentist asks you to “tap tap tap” and to “now hold” when he is seating your crown? Simply put, he wants to make sure that your teeth touch with your new crown!
Before your dentist seats your new crown, there are three things that he checks. First, he checks the marginal integrity – meaning that he ensures the margin (the edge where your crown and tooth meet) is sealed so there are no open gaps which would allow bacteria and decay to re-infect your tooth. Second, he checks the mesial and distal contacts – the points on your teeth where they touch adjacent teeth should be just tight enough. Open contacts lead to food traps and too-tight contacts won’t let you floss; an error either way, and you’ll be back to see your dentist too soon! Finally, he checks the occlusion – he wants your teeth to touch when you close your mouth. During your “now hold” pose, the dentist uses shimstock (a small piece of foil that is only 8 microns thick) to see if the teeth near your new crown touch. When you “tap tap tap” your teeth, articulating paper (think dental carbon paper) is used to lightly mark any areas on your new crown that may be too “high.” Your dentist will typically go through the “now hold” and “tap tap tap” cycle a few times as he only removes microns-thick spots with each adjustment. While your dentist uses his measurements as guides, but he knows that YOU are the ultimate judge of when your new crown fits perfectly!

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