What is a crown?
A crown, sometimes referred to as a cap, is a protective covering for the tooth. Many materials are used to make crowns.
Solid gold crowns are still an excellent option for molar teeth. Gold is very biocompatible. Some crowns are metal on the inside with porcelain on the outside. Zirconium and lithium disilicate, all ceramic crowns are extremely lifelike and esthetic. There is no metal to show through at the gum-line. Crowns are custom-made for each patient and are cemented, or bonded to the natural tooth structure. Missing a tooth? Crowns can also be specially made to be held in by dental implants.
How will I know if I need a crown?
A dentist may recommend a crown for various reasons. The most common reasons are:
- Cracked tooth
- Tooth with a large filling
- Molar or premolar with root canal treatment
- Badly worn or decayed tooth
Cracked teeth usually cannot be restored with just a filling. To help prevent the crack from spreading and breaking the tooth, the tooth needs a crown to cover and protect it.
Teeth with very large fillings are more susceptible to breakage than other teeth. If the tooth has more filling than natural tooth, your dentist may recommend a crown to prevent the tooth from cracking and breaking.
Molars and premolars are the back teeth that perform most of the chewing. Root canal treatment can leave teeth brittle, and without proper protection the teeth can break. Since the molars and premolars bear the brunt of our chewing forces, once they have had root canal treatment, they usually need a crown to give them extra strength and support.
Badly worn or badly decayed teeth need structural restoration. When loss of tooth structure is significant, a filling is not enough to fix the tooth. A crown can replace lost tooth structure and protect the tooth from further damage.
Julie C. Berger, DDS, MS is a local Gettysburg dentist and prosthodontist and former clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.