I was told I needed a dental crown. Do I really? How do I know for sure?
There are several reasons you may need a crown, which is a restoration that fully covers the tooth. Two important questions: “Is the tooth cleansable and is it strong?”
Fillings that are breaking down accumulate bacteria and cause cavities. When a filling is more than 50% of the tooth and/or is replacing a cusp (the “bump” of the tooth that allows you to chew food), the tooth is no longer strong enough to withstand chewing forces.
A tooth that has had a root canal needs a crown. These teeth can have a good prognosis, but they are not as strong as teeth that have never had a root canal. Protecting the tooth with a crown will prevent fracture. A tooth that has a larger filling and has fracture lines in the remaining structure is considered unstable. Using the tooth for chewing is dangerous because it has a higher chance of breaking.
Teeth that are excessively worn due to grinding may need crowns to replace missing tooth structure. This restores the tooth back to its original form allowing it to be protected and have more effective biting and chewing.
If you are experiencing any of these situations, it would benefit you to get a crown before anything happens that creates additional breakdown, which is a potential emergency and a more expensive problem.