What Are Dental Crowns and Why Would I Need Them?

You can probably think of several reasons a person might want a dental crown: to replace a broken tooth, cover a discolored tooth, or fix a gappy smile. But does anyone really need a dental crown? 

The answer is a resounding “yes!” In fact, want and need go hand in hand when it comes to dental crowns because the same issues that cause the cosmetic imperfections that make you desire a crown also cause oral health issues that require a crown.

Michael Muscato, DDS, and our experienced team of dental professionals at Able Dental Care specialize in oral health and dental restorations that allow you to address both aesthetic and health problems at once.

If your main concern is a minor crack or you’re generally dissatisfied with the size, shape, or gap in your teeth, veneers might be a better solution for you. 

The big difference is that a veneer covers the visible surface of a tooth and is strictly a cosmetic treatment, while a dental crown fully encapsulates the stump of your natural tooth above the gumline, and replaces the entire outer shell.

How dental crowns are made

Dental crown manufacturers use a wide range of materials and each of which has its pros and cons. If you receive a metal crown, it could be made of solid metal or an alloy, such as gold, platinum, stainless steel, and cobalt- and nickel-chromium alloys fused to porcelain shells. 

Without their porcelain shells, metal-based crowns don’t look like natural teeth, so they’re usually used for molars in a high-strength, low-visibility application.

To more closely match the appearance of your natural teeth, especially in highly visible areas, we may suggest an all-porcelain crown without a metal base, though these are more easily damaged. 

When you need a crown on front teeth, porcelain is usually the best choice, alone or over metal.

Resin or resin-composite crowns, also known as plastic crowns, can be mixed to match the exact color of your neighboring natural teeth and are the least expensive to manufacture. 

Unfortunately, they’re also the least durable, so repair or replacement is likely, compared with longer-lasting metal or metal-porcelain crowns.

Who needs a dental crown?

Anyone who needs to preserve a tooth needs a dental crown. For instance, if you have a tooth that’s chipped or cracked but is still functional, you’re a good candidate for a crown. 

Left untreated, your weakened tooth is susceptible to serious damage. But when we cement a dental crown over it, we strengthen and protect your tooth while preserving its root, an important part of your overall dental health.

Anyone who has worn-down teeth or large, older fillings may benefit from crowns, too. Fillings can last a long time, but they’re not permanent. Over time, an aging filling can begin to weaken and deteriorate, allowing bacteria to seep into your tooth, but a crown completely seals the entire surface.

Anyone who needs a dental bridge — a restoration appliance that replaces lost teeth — also needs crowns to support it. Crowns on either side of a gap anchor the bridge that fills the gap.

Anyone in line for a dental implant needs a crown. Dental implants are an excellent choice for replacing lost teeth, as they help maintain optimal bone and gum health. After the small titanium post fuses with your jawbone, we install an abutment and top it with a beautiful crown. 

Anyone who has a root canal may need a crown. The root canal procedure saves your tooth and avoids an extraction, but it may require a crown to fully envelop the remains of your tooth after the inner pulp and nerve are removed.  

To learn more about how dental crowns can improve your appearance and your bite, schedule a visit with us by contacting our Phoenix, Arizona, office today.

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