When is a crown necessary?
In general terms, a crown may be necessary to protect a tooth that is particularly weak. Left unprotected, a weak tooth may break down to the point that it can no longer be restored. These are the most common conditions that require placement of a crown:
– Root canal treatment. Once a root canal is done, a tooth loses its blood supply and can become brittle over time (and more likely to break). When root canal therapy is performed on a bicuspid or molar – teeth involved in chewing – a crown is recommended.
– Large fillings/extensive decay. If enough of the tooth’s structure is comprised of filling material, or lost due to decay, a crown may be necessary. Generally, if 2/3rds of a tooth is comprised of filling material, a crown will be necessary.
– Tooth fracture. Sometimes at tooth that is free of decay or infection can become sensitive and weakened due to a fracture. This is more difficult to diagnose and, left untreated, can result in the loss of a tooth. In many cases, however, a fractured tooth can be held together a protected with a full crown.
What is involve in making a crown?
Making a custom crown typically requires 2 appointments. During the first appointment, the tooth is prepared by removing an outer layer of enamel to make room for the new crown. An impression of the tooth and surrounding teeth is then taken. Finally, a temporary crown is placed to protect the tooth until the permanent crown is ready to be placed. After the crown is made (approximately 2-3 weeks), the patient returns for a second appointment to have the new crown permanently cemented. This video may help to visualize the process:
Crowns can be made of various metals, porcelain, or a combination of the two. There are pros and cons to each type of crown, based on cost, appearance and durability. The doctor will recommend the best option for you, based on your specific situation. Finally, it is important to return for regular cleanings and exams. Even a tooth protected by a full crown is vulnerable to periodontal disease and gumline decay over time.