“I’d like to get a crown, Doc.”

I hear that all the time – yeah right!

No, the reality is I rarely ever hear that unless someone has been to the dentist recently and been told they need one. Few people even understand what crowns are or what they are used for.

This brief article will tell you when crowns are necessary.

So when should you be looking at having a crown placed on a tooth?

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First, realize that a crown is generally done when a tooth has been damaged to the point of causing major weakening of the structure. This weakening must be such that the dentist is concerned that the tooth will likely fracture and perhaps be lost if the crown isn’t done.

So if a tooth that has been otherwise healthy ends up with a large filling for any reason, there is a fair chance that a crown will be recommended. Why? A filling lives up to its name – it fills space (a cavity). It does not effectively reinforce the structure of the weakened tooth. Even the newer bonded fillings, which do increase strength compared with traditional silver or gold fillings, do not provide enough strength to avoid the crown in many instances.

Teeth that have been root canal-ed usually are crowned. A root canal-ed tooth is no longer a living tooth since the nerve and blood vessels have been removed. They become more brittle and break far easier than a healthy tooth. For this reason we usually elect to crown them.

Front teeth that have had fairly large tooth colored fillings sometimes are crowned because we can get a more uniform and durable look. Tooth color filling materials can stain and discolor over time. Crowns do not. So if you are looking for a more durable option cosmetically, crowns sometimes provide the double benefit of aesthetics and increased durability.

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