What does your dentist mean when he tells you your tooth needs a crown on it?

crownYour teeth already have crowns, it is the part of the tooth above the gum that you chew with.  So when you get told you need a new crown it means a new top on your tooth, usually because your own crown is badly broken or it is made of more filling than it is tooth.

When this happens, they are weak and a regular filling is not strong enough to hold it all together or last a very long time.  Hello crown 🙂

They work like a jacket that gives some strength back to the tooth.

What are crowns made of?

They used to be made of gold or metal with porcelain stuck on top of it to make it tooth coloured.  Ceramic technologies have gotten pretty clever now and most of the time we use an all-ceramic solution and can make them look very much like natural teeth.  Gold may still be a good idea on back teeth if you are a savage tooth grinder in your sleep.

If more than half your tooth is missing or made of filling instead of tooth, a crown may be a good idea.  Fillings are not as strong as teeth, so you need a fair bit of tooth to support the filling, not the other way around.

A typical middle aged New Zealand mouth has some big black amalgams in the back teeth, some cracks running out from the amalgam, some lumps of white filling stuck on the side from bits breaking off all the time and maybe a few missing teeth from bits breaking one too many times.

A crown will provide a great looking tooth that will last a long time and try to ensure that tooth stays in your mouth.

Crowns are also done after root canal treatment.  When a root canal is done a really big hole is made in the middle of the tooth that makes it really weak.  The main reason for root canals failing is because the filling falls out afterward or the tooth breaks off letting new infection inside the tooth.

Sometimes crowns are done to hide really dark stains or change the shape of front teeth.  Lots of crowns in a row can create a brand new smile.

While crowns do have a great lifetime, like anything that I do, you can destroy it if you do not look after it.  You still need to clean your teeth well and see a dentist regularly.