The term "crown" is used to describe the portion of your tooth that extends above the gumline - in other words, the portion of the tooth that can be seen in a healthy mouth. It is also used more colloquially to describe the dental procedure of having a prosthetic "crown" placed over a decayed, chipped, cracked, or otherwise damaged tooth.
With this dental procedure code, the prosthetic crown placed over your tooth is constructed of stainless steel, and completely covers the entire remaining portion of the tooth. Later it is modified with resin to enhance its appearance. Unlike custom-made crowns, stainless steel crowns are pre-made (or, pre-fabricated) by a firm that specializes in providing this type of restorative dental product to dentists. For adults, they are primarily used as temporary crowns until which time budget or time permits the installation of a more permanent solution such as a 3/4 noble metal crown, or a porcelain fused to noble metal crown.
While stainless steel crowns are typically used on teeth outside the "smile-zone," based on preference or budgetary restraints, a prefabricated stainless steel crown can be modified to make it more “tooth-like” with the addition of a tooth-colored synthetic resin. Synthetic resins are liquid materials that can be converted into a permanent hardened material, and in dentistry are most commonly acrylic polymer or polymethyl methacrylate.
To prepare for this type of crown, a dentist will first remove any decayed or weakened areas of the tooth, and reduce its overall shape to accommodate the crown. Then, different sized prefabricated crowns will be tested on your tooth until the correct size is found. Further adjustments may then be made to achieve a secure fit and bite-match, and then the crown will be cemented in place.
After it has been cemented, a small recessed “window” is carved into the face of the stainless steel, and the tooth-colored resin is layered into the recess. Imagine a tooth with a visible thin metal line around it and you will have a good idea as to what this “window” actually looks like when the process is complete. Of course, depending on the cosmetic skills of your dentist and the amount of healthy tooth available, results will vary. Finally, a special light is used to harden these layers and the tooth is shaped and polished to prevent staining and early wear. The result is a tooth that now has the strength of a metal crown, with the appearance of a natural tooth across most of its surface.