No one likes to hear the news that one of their teeth has a crack or cavity. Small cavities can be bonded with composite, but from time to time a dentist will recommend restoring a damaged tooth with a dental crown. But, how do you know if you might need one?
A Cracked Tooth. A tooth can crack for a number of reasons: grinding the teeth, biting hard foods, an injury, and/or natural wear and tear. Indications of a possible crack are temperature sensitivity or pain while biting. Unfortunately, once a cracked tooth develops symptoms it can be much more difficult to save the tooth. It’s generally much better to restore a cracked tooth before sensitivity develops! If the crack is a surface crack just within the enamel, then bonding the tooth to keep the crack from spreading can work, however, if the crack is more extensive, then a crown would be the best solution.
Decay and a Large Filling. Any tooth with a filling is at risk for cracking due to a weakened structure. The larger the filling required due to the amount of decay, the higher the risk. A dental crown can hold the cusps together to protect the remaining tooth from further damage.
A back tooth that has had root canal treatment should usually have a crown to hold the weakened tooth together and help prevent cracking.
Dental crowns have come a long way. Today, with modern all porcelain crowns, almost anyone can have a beautiful smile. These are not your grandfather's caps!
Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.