Dental crowns are porcelain, zirconia, or metal devices used to cover and protect teeth. Unlike nightguards and retainers, which can be removed, dental crowns are permanently attached to the underlying tooth. Many people receive their first dental crown when they undergo root canal therapy since crowns are standardly used to protect teeth that have been treated in this manner. However, dental crowns have much broader applications. Here are four other situations where your dentist might recommend dental crowns:
1. You have large dental fillings.
Dental fillings are the first line of treatment for cavities. When a cavity is treated, the decayed portion of tooth enamel is removed, and a filling is put in its place. Unfortunately, the larger a filling is, the more structurally unsound it is. People with large dental fillings may be more prone to leakage, which can cause further decay below the filling. Large fillings are also more likely to fall out. If you've been having trouble with a large filling, your dentist may suggest putting a dental crown in place. A dental crown can provide support for your tooth to prevent further decay and filling loss.
2. Your teeth are weak.
The strength of a person's teeth is determined by many factors, including their oral hygiene, genetics, and diet. Some things can weaken your teeth, such as cracks and chips caused by impact or bruxism. If your dentist identifies a weak tooth in your mouth, they may suggest reinforcing it with a dental crown. Dental crowns can prevent broken, cracked, and chipped teeth from growing painful or infected.
3. You're a heavy teeth grinder.
In times of stress, some people subconsciously clench their jaws and grind their teeth. When performed once, this action is harmless. However, over time teeth grinding and jaw clenching can lead to erosion of your tooth enamel. Teeth grinding can be especially harmful when it's done unconsciously at night. Over time, you can wear away the enamel of your teeth to expose the dentin and pulp below. This can make your teeth especially painful or sensitive to temperature changes. Once your tooth enamel is gone, there's no way to restore it. However, dental crowns can be used to protect the pulp of your teeth from further damage.
4. You're interested in permanent tooth replacement options.
Finally, dental crowns are helpful for people who are interested in permanent tooth replacement options. Two popular methods, dental implants and dental bridges, rely on crowns to provide support and a viable chewing surface. Your dentist can help you learn more about what to expect from dental crown placement in these situations.