Do you deserve a crown?

Updated: Oct 1, 2018

Teeth break down, they snap, they decay, the get filled, they break again. To stop the cycle of wear and tear, a crown can bring back strength and beauty. Crowns give the teeth many more years of service. They look good, feel great, and last a long time.

Dental crown at the dentist
After a hard life of chewing, crowning can rejuvenate the tooth.

Crowns on front teeth for slicing

Front teeth are called incisors. Their job is to cut into food and slice off bite sized chunks. They are the first point of contact when biting into all sorts of textures, including fingernails, chip packets and olive pitts. Incisors that have been repaired with composite resin may repeatedly break, causing distress to the patient and the dentist. That's when it's time to bring in the big guns - Crowns.

Here the front tooth has a fracture line where the tooth has split. It had to be cut back to a peg shape to allow for the "thimble" shaped crown to slide over the top. The bracing effect holds the fractured tooth together, allowing the patient to bite with confidence again.

Crowned tooth before and after
Fractured front tooth restored with ceramic crown.

Crown over dark tooth
Here a dark tooth has already been cut back, ready for the crown

Fixing the decay with crowns relies on the patient using dental floss every day to prevent decay from returning.
Fixing the decay with crowns relies on the patient using dental floss every day to prevent decay from returning.

Crowns on molar teeth

Molars are the big chewing teeth that do most of the work of eating. When they need repairs, there are options of gold or ceramic.

Gold crown before and after
Not only broken but also cracked underneath. Gold crown to the rescue!
Why choose gold when we have ceramic?

Ceramic crowns look great because they match the colour of the teeth. If cosmetics are of high concern then zirconia crowns can perform very well on the front teeth. For the very back molar teeth however, gold can be a better performer in the long run. Being a metal, gold can be very thin and very strong, which means the dentist only needs to cut a limited amount of tooth back to fit the crown. Ceramics have problems with being generally more bulky and also they can wear the opposite teeth down from a grinding effect. Gold is much more gentle on the teeth.

Crown after root canal therapy

When root canal therapy is complete, the tooth is considerably weaker. Firstly the middle of the tooth has been drilled deeply, which means there is greater leverage on the cusps. Biting forces can cause the tooth to crack in half. Secondly there is no reflex reaction within the tooth when something excessively hard is encountered. Without a nerve to feel the crack starting, the tooth can shatter unexpectedly.

Crowns can help prevent the shattering, splitting and breaking of teeth after root canal therapy by bracing the tooth. Indeed in the preparation of a crown, more tooth needs to be removed to make space for the crown. However a skilful dentist will know how to minimise the cutting to give the optimum fit. For example using gold allows the dentist to cut less tooth and keep the tooth stronger.

What is a bridge?

Bridges are a similar process to having a crown placed, however bridges usually span across 3 teeth or more and replace missing teeth. You do not need a bridge if you have no gaps or had any teeth removed.

Minimal intervention maryland bridge
Bridges fill the gap of missing teeth. Many bridges hide the metal with ceramic coverings.