Broken, cracked, or worn teeth do a lot more than detract from your smile; when your teeth aren’t functioning as they’re meant to, you may also experience problems like teeth grinding and further tooth erosion.

To prevent these problems from occurring, your crowns dentist in Chapel Hill would recommend a crown. Dental crowns are designed to fit over your tooth like a little ceramic helmet. Since it fully encloses your tooth, the crown absorbs chewing forces while it strengthens and protects the tooth from further damage.

5 Reasons We Might Recommend a Crown

Dental crowns help Dr. Hourigan protect damaged teeth, and they have many uses:

  • Protect cracked, broken, or worn-down teeth
  • Strengthen a tooth after root canal treatment
  • Provide support for a dental bridge
  • Restore function and appearance to a dental implant
  • Alter the irregular shape or size of a tooth that causes bite problems

The Dental Crowns Procedure

Thanks to state-of-the-art technology, placing dental crowns today is easier than ever!

First, your dentist prepares the tooth for your crown by removing some of its structure. Next, she uses digital scanners that eliminate the need for messy paste and provide highly accurate dental impressions.

We’ll choose the most appropriate material and shade for your dental crown and send all our specifications to a custom dental lab that prepares your new custom restoration. Since we use digital impressions, we streamline the process, and it only takes about a week to get your crown back from the lab.

When we receive your crown back from the lab, we’ll have you come in so that Dr. Hourigan can check it for fit and bond it to your tooth. The result of all this is a beautiful, natural-looking dental crown that can last as long as 15 years or more with proper care.

Please Call Us for An Appointment

If you have a damaged or broken tooth, please call the crowns dentist in Chapel Hill, and we’ll find the right treatment for your needs.



Dental emergencies are always inconvenient and often painful. Prompt treatment is almost always necessary to alleviate pain and to ensure the teeth have the best possible chance of survival. ALWAYS contact your dentist immediately if you experience a dental emergency. Chapel Hill emergency dentist Dr. Diane Hourigan explains the more common dental emergencies and how you should handle them:

Severe Pain

This is the most common type of emergency, and it’s an indication that a serious problem is developing. After you call your dentist, you can try over-the-counter pain relievers and a cold compress on and off your face for 20-minute intervals.

Knocked-Out (Avulsed) Tooth

If a tooth has been knocked out of the mouth, it is crucial for you to deal with it immediately. Contact your Chapel Hill emergency dentist immediately because if the tooth can be placed back into its socket within an hour, there is a chance the tissues will grow to support the tooth once again.

  • DO NOT touch the root of the tooth to avoid damaging attached tissue. Handle it carefully by the crown and rinse under warm water.
  • Place the tooth in a cup of milk, saliva, or water. It is important to keep the tooth from drying out.
  • If your emergency involves trauma to the face or jaw, or you experience excessive bleeding, call 911 or go directly to an emergency room.

Lost Filling or Crown

Once you’ve lost a filling the affected tooth may become highly sensitive to temperature changes and pressure. When a crown comes out, make a dental appointment as soon as possible. If you wait too long, you may damage the tooth and require a new restoration. Wrap the crown in tissue and bring it to the dentist. A lost crown can often be reused if we can replace it immediately.

Cracked or Broken Teeth

Natural teeth are strong, but they are still prone to fractures, cracks, and breaks. If the crack extends into the root, the pain may be extreme. If a tooth fractured or cracked, you must see an emergency dentist as quickly as possible.

Don’t let a dental emergency compromise your oral health. Call us right away to get the fast relief you need!


How TMJ Is Affecting Your Health

by Dr. Diane Hourigan

The jaw joint is one of those things most people flat-out take for granted. For many, it does its job on a daily basis without any issues, but when something goes wrong, it can be painfully obvious for the person suffering from the problem.


Should the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) become misaligned, the side effects can be incredibly painful throughout the face and ears. In some cases, the effects of a TMJ disorder can be even more painful or far-reaching.

TMJ Disorder and Its Effects on Overall Health


There are a number of ways in which TMJ can negatively impact a person’s health beyond the discomfort they may feel in their jaw on a daily basis. The following are some possibilities for how TMJ can eventually manifest itself in different ways:


Chronic Headaches & Migraines


Perhaps the most common symptom associated with TMJ is painful headaches. Because the jaw isn’t behaving the way it should, it can cause all sorts of pain in the face and jaw muscles, and that can manifest itself as a headache that simply will not go away. For those that suffer from migraines anyway, TMJ can exacerbate the problem, causing excruciating chronic headaches that make it hard to function in everyday life.


Difficult Sleeping


As is the case with any kind of major pain, TMJ can cause difficulties sleeping, and a lack of sleep can cause hosts of other problems. Losing sleep can affect a person’s memory, mood, concentration, blood pressure, weight, and immune system. In every possible way, losing sleep as a result of TMJ is something that can spiral into much bigger problems over time.


Abnormal Tooth Wear


Because TMJ causes misalignment of the jaw, it is possible for a patient’s jaw to chew differently than it should, often resulting in abnormal wear and tear on certain teeth. No damage to teeth is good damage, which means over time this abnormal wear could require cosmetic procedures to save the tooth. If not, patients could be at higher risk for cavities.




Vertigo is a disorder that can make it feel like everything around a person is moving or spinning and is most often caused by problems with the inner ear. This very sensitive part of the inner ear is located in proximity to the TMJ, so any inflammation of that joint certainly can have an impact on vertigo.




Another problem that concerns the ear, tinnitus is an incessant ringing attached to hearing loss, and while most cases are not curable, those associated to TMJ can be with proper treatment. That’s good news, but experiencing the problem in the first place is no fun. Again, because the TMJ is located near the inner ear, any issues with muscle, cartilage, or ligaments near the eardrum can be responsible for tinnitus.

Treatment for TMJ Disorder

Thankfully, the experts at Dr. Diane Hourigan’s office want to help if you are experiencing any discomfort in your jaw. As your Chapel Hill dentist, we have the professionals and the equipment to provide professional TMJ treatment and help relieve patients of this issue, hopefully clearing up all the other long-term risks associated with TMJ in the process.