When your dentist tells you that you need to have a crown, there is a good reason why. Either a tooth is cracked, broken or fractured, or there isn’t enough tooth material left to do a filling, either from a cavity, decay or wear. It is also used following a root canal.
A crown is merely a way to restore and strengthen a tooth so that you can keep the tooth in place. It is a covering, like a cap, placed over the tooth to give it structure and support. It recreates the natural outline of the tooth for a seamless fit into your bite.
A filling can be used to recreate portions of a tooth, but cannot be used to cover large regions successfully. A crown covers the entire tooth to the gumline, creating a more stable environment for normal function. It fits in so naturally you won’t be able to tell the difference between your crown and your natural teeth.
Why Do I Need a Crown?
Getting a crown is the best way to save a tooth that might otherwise have to be pulled. You can only fill a tooth so much or so many times before there isn’t enough tooth structure left. And if you break a tooth, there is no good way to add back the broken tooth material.
Your dentist’s goal is to help you keep your natural teeth as long as possible. When you lose a tooth, more problems can occur. Your teeth can shift out of alignment, causing bite problems and the potential loss of more teeth, or you may need to get a bridge to fill the gap. Ongoing care a lost tooth can be much more expensive than getting a crown.
Types of Crown Materials
Crowns can be composed of different materials, with the most common being porcelain. Today’s porcelain crowns are strong and durable, and we are able to match your natural tooth color to make the crown almost imperceptible in your smile. You’ll probably forget which tooth has the crown!
In dental treatment past, it was common to use a metal crown, with a porcelain coating. Modern porcelain crowns are metal free.
People are still getting gold crowns as an alternative to a porcelain crown, but they’re really not made of gold. Instead, they are a combination of gold with other metals, like nickel, chromium or palladium in order to increase the crown’s strength and reduce its cost. They may be silver or gold in color.
Gold crowns are most often used on back molars where they will not show in your smile. They offer a long-wearing, chip-proof alternative to a porcelain crown and can last for decades.
In rare cases, usually when people are allergic to metals, a ceramic crown is still used. Generally, it is composed of zirconium dioxide and can be matched to the natural tooth color. Ceramic crowns are not as strong or long-wearing as either porcelain or gold crowns, and may wear down opposing teeth.
Crown Restorations at Advanced Family Dentistry
We love to educate our patients on good dental health, so if you’re asking, “Why do I need a crown?” we’ll be happy to talk with you about why we think it is the best option for you, and discuss the types of crowns we can offer. We encourage your questions! The better informed you are about your dental health, the better care you can take care of your teeth—for a lifetime.
Dr. Sonny Kim is a Diplomat of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI), the highest education level for general dentists in this field.
Advanced Family Dentistry
Dr. Sonny Kim, DMD
11876 Sunrise Valley Dr, Suite 101
Reston, VA 20191