If you have a cavity in one of your teeth, you will (or at least, should) have it filled. If the cavity is particularly deep, and the tooth's overall structure has been compromised as a result of this deepening decay, you may need a dental crown fitted over the tooth to permanently reinforce it. Without this intervention, the tooth will continue to deteriorate (which can be painful) until it can be lost entirely. So what happens when your dog experiences the same problem?
Functionality Is the Priority
With a dental crown intended for humans, a porcelain crown both offers esthetics (it's tooth-colored) and restores the tooth's functionality. When it comes to pet dental care, functionality is the priority, meaning an all-metal crown is generally the default option. Porcelain crowns for dogs are available but can be an unnecessary expense unless your pet competes in dog shows where their appearance is assessed. Your dog won't mind either way, and the fact that one of their teeth now appears to be metal can't concern them—after all, your dog can't recognize their own reflection in a mirror.
Metal Crowns for Dogs
In any event, metal crowns (which may be stainless steel or a metal alloy) require less tooth preparation than a porcelain crown. The metal is incredibly thin, so very little of the tooth's surface must be removed to accommodate the crown. This involves less treatment time for your dog. The crown can be sourced from the vet's existing stock, although a custom crown can be made (and generally provides the best results). Any decay is removed from the tooth before it's prepared (resized) for the crown, which is then bonded over the tooth.
In the following days, your dog's tooth may be sensitive. They're unlikely to need pain relief, but the tooth shouldn't be aggravated until it's had a reasonable period of time to recover. Your dog may need to consume an exclusively soft food diet. You may also need to remove any chew toys and closely supervise your dog when they're out and about (even in the backyard) so they don't pick up a stick and start chewing. Your vet can give you more detailed aftercare instructions, but the goal is to avoid overstimulating the tooth (and its nerve) for a brief period (which should only be a matter of days).
Your dog's recovery should be rapid, but it's a good idea to have a talk with your vet about your dog's dental care needs to ensure that the crown they're receiving is the only time they'll need one.
Contact your vet if you have questions about pet dental care.