What is the Purpose of a Crown?

What is a Dental Crown? 

Crowns restore severely damaged teeth to original form

A crown, also known as cap, is a dental prosthesis that is used to restore severely damaged teeth back to their original format. Crowns protect the portion of your tooth which is sitting above the gums to seal off bacteria and protect against further damage. Crowns are very useful in dentistry and have many implications. Here are some instance where crowns are useful in dentistry:

Restoring Severely Damaged Teeth

Teeth with large cracks or deep fractures need a crown to prevent the damage from getting worse. Similarly, teeth with large cavities need a crown since fillings stress and break the tooth, so placing a crown is preferred over a filling. Crowns restore your teeth back to their original format and protect against further damage, infection and heavy bite forces. Patients who have worn down their teeth due to aggressive grinding may have to place crowns on multiple teeth, sometimes even on every single tooth in the mouth!

Cosmetic Crowns

Cosmetic crowns are made from ceramic and don't have metal inside

Sometimes we choose to place crowns on teeth for cosmetic purposes to enhance their appearance. Cosmetic crowns are used to fix chipped, broken and discolored front teeth in order to restore their youthful appearance. You can straighten crooked teeth, close minor gaps and effectively rejuvenate your smile by placing cosmetic crowns on them. Keep in mind, cosmetic crowns are made from ceramic and don’t have any metal inside. This helps them maintain their appearance over time but also makes them more expensive. If you're interested in cosmetic crowns, find a cosmetic dentist and they will be sure to take good care of you.

Fixing Root Canal Treated Teeth

Almost all teeth which have had a root canal treatment require a crown to re-enforce the tooth structure. Unfortunately, root canal treatment requires the removal of substantial tooth structure which significantly weakens teeth. Placing a crown helps strengthen and protect these teeth against further damage. Failing to place a crown after root canal treatment can cause your tooth to fracture and you may end up losing the tooth altogether.

Dental Implants & Bridges

Whenever your dentist talks about dental implants or bridges, there are crowns still involved in your treatment. For example, the final step in restoring dental implants is placing a crown on top of the dental implant. Similarly, dental bridges are nothing more than several crowns connected to one another to close a space created by one or more missing teeth.

Crowns Protect Baby Teeth

Yes, even children occasionally need a crown. Infected baby teeth, ones that have large cavities or are infected, need crowns to restore and protect the tooth. Without a crown, dentists have no choice but to remove these baby teeth. This results in collapse of children’s bite and leads to future orthodontic problems. Missing teeth also affect children’s chewing, speech development and overall confidence. Note that most children’s crowns are made from stainless steel. The good news is that eventually these teeth are replaced with adult teeth as they grow over time and the metal tooth will be gone.

How Do I Know if I Need a Crown, Filling or Something Else?

Your dentist will help you decide between a crown or filling

Your dentist will help you decide if a dental filling or crown is more appropriate based upon the size of damage, location, bite forces and other factors which come into effect when making a decision about restoring teeth. The decision ultimately comes down to how much damage your tooth has sustained. Smaller cavities and minor cracks can easily be fixed with dental fillings. On the other hand, teeth with large fractures or extensive cavity always require a crown. Placing a filling on a tooth that requires a crown only worsens the problem and can lead to infection and additional problems. It is normal to require more crowns as we age, since teeth are now weaker and more susceptible to fracture and damage.

If you like to learn more about crowns or are interested in receiving a crown, schedule a consultation with us to determine what is best for you and your mouth.

Brush 'n Floss Yo Teeth!
Ali John Jazayeri, DDS


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