I speak with patients all the time about crowns. Frequently, the patient does not know what a crown is or why it is recommended for that specific tooth. Unfortunately, there is a perception that dentists want to crown teeth to increase profits, when really we are trying to protect your teeth (the only set you get!) so they will survive in the long-term. Here, we would like to clear up some of your crown confusions:

Two main reasons for recommending a crown:
Broken tooth: The best predictor of if a tooth will break in the future is if the tooth has broken in the past. If your tooth has broken and your dentist tells you you need a crown, count yourself lucky! Often, when a tooth breaks, the break can occur deep enough that the tooth needs a root canal before the crown, or it can break below the level of bone rendering the tooth non-restorable. Once that tooth is extracted, it is usually recommended to replace it with an implant or bridge that costs thousands of dollars. That crown is starting to sound pretty good, huh? A dentist will often recommend crowns for teeth that they see are at risk for fracture, such as teeth that have very large fillings, or teeth that show fracture lines (especially if the patient has a history of grinding or clenching).Large filling: Every time you get a cavity in a tooth, more tooth structure needs to be removed in order to fill it. Thus, if you have a tooth that has been filled multiple times over the years, there is often very little tooth left for us to work with. The composite material (“white filling”) that we use must be bonded to the tooth with adhesive. If there is very little natural tooth surface area left, the bond will be weak and the filling will fail. Also, the composite material is not nearly as strong as the materials used to make crowns (gold or porcelain), so the chances that the filling or the tooth will break are much higher with very, very large fillings.Click HERE and scroll down for more answers: What is a crown? How long to they last? What are the types of crowns?

What is a crown, anyway?
A crown is like a hat that covers all or most of the parts of the tooth that are above the gumline. To prepare a tooth for a crown, the dentist will get you numb, then remove 1-3 millimeters of tooth structure from the front, back, both sides, and biting surface of the tooth. This leaves you with a “mini-tooth” that allows for the space that the crown will take up in your mouth. After an impression is made, the assistant will make a temporary crown for you to wear while the laboratory fabricates your crown. After the lab is done making the crown, we see you again for a short appointment to deliver it. At the delivery, the crown is checked over thoroughly and then cemented onto your tooth.The number one reason crowns need to be replaced is that a cavity has developed at the crown margin (where the tooth and the crown meet), so frequent flossing and regular check-ups are essential to protect your investment. The average life of a crown is 7-15 years, but properly cared for, a crown can last decades (in this study of gold crowns, 72% were over 20 years old, and 45% lasted 25-52 years!). 

What are the types of crowns?
You and your dentist will make a determination about what material is appropriate for your specific tooth, but in general there are four different types of dental crowns.

  • Ceramic — These are used for restoring front teeth, and are popular in this area for their ability to blend with your natural tooth color. The crown is made of a porcelain-based material.
  • Porcelain-fused to metal – This crown provides a stronger bond than regular porcelain because it is connected to a metal structure. It’s also extremely durable.
  • Gold alloys – This crown is a mix of gold, copper and other metals. In addition to providing a strong bond to the tooth, it doesn’t fracture, nor does it wear away the tooth itself.
  • Base metal alloys – This crown is made up of non-noble metals that are highly resistant to corrosion, and make for a very strong crown. It also requires the least amount of healthy tooth to be removed prior to fitting.
As always, thank you for reading this post! If you have more questions we would be happy to speak with you at our Eugene (541-683-8396) or Springfield (541-746-9552) locations.

 

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