In most cases, dentists use one of two strategies to make crowns: they take a mold and send the order to a lab, or they make the crown on site in their office with special equipment. There are pros and cons to both of these options, and ultimately, your decision depends on your personal circumstances. Here are three questions to help you decide.

1. Do You Have Limited Time?

If you have limited time, you may want to opt for a dentist who can make a crown on site. That way, you only need to go to one appointment. That can be a real time saver if you have to travel to the dentist or if you have limited time off from work.

On the other side of the spectrum, if the dentist sends the order for a crown to a lab, it takes two appointments to finish the process. Usually, during the first appointment, the dentist cleans the decay out of your tooth, puts on a temporary crown and takes a mold to send to the lab. Then, you come back for a second appointment when the crown is complete, and the dentist puts in the crown at that point.

2. How Complicated Are the Aesthetics of the Tooth?

In some cases, you may want to consider the complexity of the tooth that needs a crown. For instance, if you need a crown for a tooth in the back, that is pretty easy to accomplish with in-office crown making equipment.

On the other hand, if you need a crown for a front tooth, the surfaces can be a bit more complicated to get correct, and in that case, you may want to have the crown made in a lab that employs a master ceramist. Most dentists work with a single lab, and as a patient, you don't get to choose the lab. However, you can ask questions about the lab and whether or not it has a master ceramicist employed there, and that can help you make your final decision.

3. How Experienced Is the Dentist With the Crown-Making Equipment?

In addition to weighing the pros and cons of on-site or lab-based crowns, you may also want to think about the experience level of the individual making the crown. Lab techs often work on crowns all day long, giving them lots of experience. On the other hand, some dentists may also be proficient with their crown machinery, while others may still be working on their skills. To get a sense of their experience, you may want to ask to see photos of previous work.

If you are still undecided about whether you want your crown made on site or in a lab, contact a dentist directly. These professionals can help guide you in the right direction for your dental health.