Dental crowns are hollow, tooth-shaped caps that slip over a damaged natural tooth so you can keep your original tooth — and its roots — in place. Dental crowns are a great way to protect your tooth from further damage and to stabilize it so you can keep it — for life.
Louis B. Conte, DDS, and our team at Red Bank Dental Office in Red Bank, New Jersey, recommend crowns instead of extractions whenever possible. We provide custom-designed crowns made of porcelain or composite materials, depending on your desire and your budget.
What situations call for a dental crown? Take a moment to find out, and see if they apply to you.
Your tooth is chipped, cracked, or damaged
When you crack or chip a tooth, your first choice for a fix may be dental bonding that smooths over the crack or restores the shape of your tooth. While dental bonds can last for many years, they may also come off if you bite with the edges of your teeth or eat hard or chewy foods.
Large chips and cracks aren’t easily fixed with bonding, either. If you have a damaged tooth, or if you’ve had to re-do your bonding more than once, you could benefit from getting a dental crown instead.
You have massive fillings
If you had a large cavity, or if you’ve had more than one cavity in a single tooth, you might begin to wonder where your tooth begins and your filling ends. Large fillings can make your tooth unstable and weak.
Large fillings might also come loose, leaving your tooth prone to breakage and damage. A crown covers the filling and provides extra strength to your natural tooth, limiting its risk for further damage.
You have metal fillings
Fillings made of a metal amalgam, even if they’re small, could be releasing mercury fumes into your mouth. Mercury is a highly toxic metal that’s been associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other forms of dementia. Even if you’ve been told your fillings are made of “silver,” they contain mercury.
In fact, at least one study demonstrated that women who were exposed to dental amalgams were 1.132% more likely to have AD than women who weren’t exposed. Patients with AD tend to have about twice the levels of mercury in their bloodstream than people without AD.
Removing metal fillings is a specialized procedure that requires safety precautions. Once the filling has been removed, we use a nontoxic, non-metal composite material to fill the tooth.
Depending on how large your filling is, you may then benefit from capping the new filling with a crown. Crowns help protect the tooth and hold the filling in place.
You’ve ground down your teeth
Even if you’re not aware of it, you could be grinding your teeth at night, a habit known as bruxism. Snoring and sleep apnea are often associated with bruxism.
If your molars are flatter than they used to be, you won’t be able to completely chew your food for optimal digestion. You might also have worn down your front teeth’s biting surfaces, making your teeth look uneven and ragged.
Dr. Conte recommends dental crowns to restore the biting and chewing surfaces of your teeth. He also then fits you with a custom-designed night guard to prevent you from grinding your teeth while you sleep.
You have missing teeth
Individual dental implants are the most natural-looking and most functional type of tooth replacement system. However, if you have more than one missing tooth, you might not be able to afford dental implants to replace them.
A dental bridge allows you to span the gap of missing teeth with a cluster of artificial teeth. Dr. Conte secures the dental bridge to the teeth that adjoin the gap (known as the abutment teeth). He reshapes your abutment teeth to accept the custom-designed crowns that are on either side of the dental bridge.