Dental crowns are caps that completely cover a tooth. The dentist has to remove some of the enamel in order to fit a crown into the same space. The process takes three steps – or three visits. However, once a tooth is crowned, it should function as well as a natural tooth and blend into the surrounding teeth. That said, dental crowns aren't a fix-all. Find out if dental capping or another procedure best solves your tooth problems.
Significant Tooth Decay
Sometimes your dentist can keep filling a tooth until it's more filling than enamel. This affects the structural integrity of the tooth, meaning it can break when you bite or chew. In that case, it's better to crown the tooth rather than trying to maintain the natural enamel. If the tooth features significant enough decay, it may be preferable to pull the tooth and either get fitted for a bridge or an implant.
Biting into a fruit pit or other unexpectedly hard item can cause your teeth to crack. If your tooth has a small crack, it may not be necessary to completely cover it with a crown. Bonding or a partial crown might be sufficient to repair the damage. If, however, the tooth is in danger of breaking, or the nerve is exposed, a full crown is preferable.
Teeth sometimes get damaged in accidents. If the chip is small enough, bonding or veneers can repair the problem. For big chips or those on your biting teeth, dental crowns better restore the structural strength of your tooth.
Certain foods, beverages and habits, such as smoking, can stain the teeth. If the discoloration is too severe for simple whitening, or if it was caused by medication, your dentist will likely suggest porcelain veneers. These simply provide a façade to your teeth. As Crown Council points out, though, tooth grinding and other issues can cause your teeth to have insufficient support for veneers. In that case, your dentist may suggest crowns.
Several problems can cause a misaligned bite, which in turn causes more issues. Teeth can grow in crooked because of a malformed jaw or too-small mouth. The upper and lower jaws sometimes just don't align properly. In most cases, a retainer or even braces are necessary to solve the issue. If the misalignment is slight, though, and only interferes with your chewing, capping the teeth can alleviate the issue.
Dental crowns can improve the appearance of your teeth as well as their structural integrity. Talk to your dentist about your candidacy for tooth capping. Visit a general dentistry practice for more information.