Dental crowns — or “caps” as some people call them — are protective restorations that fit over your tooth. They add a new layer of reinforcement over your damaged or compromised tooth structure. Unlike fillings that go inside your teeth, crowns protect them from the outside.
If you’re getting a dental crown for the first time, here are five different scenarios of why that may be the case:
You Recently Had a Root Canal
Root canal therapy can keep your tooth intact, preventing the need for an extraction. But when the nerve of a tooth is taken out, the remaining structure can become a bit more brittle. That means it’s more likely to break down when you’re biting and chewing every day.
Placing a crown over your endodontically-treated tooth helps reinforce it. That way you can continue eating normally without having to avoid using that side of your mouth. Otherwise you would start to see irregular wear patterns throughout your mouth, along with premature wear on the tooth with the root canal.
A crown is almost always recommended if you’ve had a root canal. There are very few exceptions. So, if you have endodontic therapy planned, it’s safe to assume a crown will come shortly thereafter.
There’s an Old, Large Filling You Need to Replace
Amalgam (metal or silver) fillings have been used for decades. They’re useful in that they can be very large and durable. But the problem comes when the filling starts to age and pull away from the tooth. As that happens, leakage can occur around your restoration and start to create new areas of tooth damage.
When you’re changing out a filling, you typically have to reduce the enamel immediately around it before a restoration can be placed. For large fillings, there may not be enough tooth left to work with. In those situations, it’s best to remove the old filling, reinforce the remaining tooth structure, and then place a crown over the entire area. Otherwise the tooth might simply start to break apart.
You Broke or Fractured Your Tooth
Large cracks, fractures, or chips in your teeth are typically hard to “patch over” with bonding or a filling. When you do, those restorations are at a higher risk of coming loose if you’re using the tooth to bite into something (depending on where the chip is, of course.)
Structurally speaking, it’s best to put a crown over and around a compromised tooth. Trying to fill it or patch it is something that usually won’t withstand everyday wear. It will depend on the extent of the structural damage though! Smaller chips probably won’t need a crown at all.
There’s Severe Wear or Erosion
Tooth enamel is the strongest thing in your entire body. Unfortunately, it’s not indestructible. Excessive wear from grinding and clenching or acid erosion can destroy your enamel, exposing the underlying layers of dentin. Teeth gradually look shorter, chipped/worn, or feel sensitive. You might even have signs of broken dental work.
By rebuilding your teeth with a series of crowns, you can halt the premature wear and allow your bite to function more efficiently.
But that’s just the first step. After you get your crowns, you’ll also want to address what caused your worn enamel in the first place. Crowns aren’t invincible either, so you don’t want to repeat the process. Wearing a mouthguard while you’re sleeping or talking to your doctor about prescription antacid medication (for GERD sufferers) may be the next thing on the list.
There’s a Large Cavity
Dr. Huynh always prefers the least invasive restorative option. For small cavities, that’s usually going to be a composite filling. This material bonds closely to your tooth and limits adjustments on the surrounding enamel. But if the cavity is large, a filling won’t stand up to the pressure of biting and chewing.
Instead, large cavities are best repaired by building the tooth back up and covering it over with a crown. The crown distributes the chewing/biting forces so that remaining tooth structures don’t break apart after the cavity is removed.
Keep in mind, if the cavity is large enough that it reaches down into the nerve or causes an abscess, you’ll also need a root canal.
Get an Honest, Professional Opinion
Are you looking for an honest, gentle dentist in Mesa? Dr. Vinh Huynh, DMD will treat you like family! When you need answers to all of your oral health questions, we’re here to help. We also have a CEREC machine to get you same day crowns in most cases.
Call Eastport Dental today to schedule!