When your dentist recommends a crown, it is absolutely right for you to ask questions. And if your dentist doesn’t give you a comprehensive answer, it’s a good idea to seek a second opinion. Crowns are more expensive than fillings, so the reason behind getting one has to be worth the extra cost.
Why we recommend crowns.
1. A tooth is cracked.
A cracked tooth will not heal the way a cracked bone does. If a tooth is cracked, there is good chance the tooth will break and become irreparable. If the tooth breaks below the gum line, it could lead to needing an extraction and a dental implant. To prevent this from happening, we recommend a crown.
Sometimes what looks like a crack could be a “craze.” A craze is a stress line, and they are very common. They don’t require any restoration but some turn into cracks in time. If a dentist isn’t sure if a tooth is cracked or crazed, they might use a special dye that seeps into a crack if it is one. If you aren’t having any pain, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist how they know the tooth is cracked. They should be happy to explain it to you.
2. A filling is more than 2/3 the width of the tooth.
If a filling takes up a significant amount of space within a tooth, there is a risk of it cracking. Often we will see decay build up around the filling, which eventually causes a piece of the tooth to break off. To prevent the chance of there being a lot of damage to the tooth, a crown will be recommended.
3. You’ve had a root canal.
If you’ve had a root canal on a molar, the temporary filling that is placed is usually very large. Just like in the first two examples, these leave a lot of risk for that tooth cracking and having major damage. Having a crown placed will reduce this risk, so it is no longer a worry.
We can never predict what will happen.
There are times when a cracked tooth simply stays cracked and never completely breaks. The odds of this happening are low, and we would rather provide options for prevention rather than play those odds. The health of our patients is too important to risk.
In other cases the crack may cause the tooth to break above the gum line, requiring an emergency appointment for a crown. This often costs more than if you have it done beforehand.
The worst case scenario for not getting a crown when you should be having the tooth split. If the tooth splits all the way through, it could require an extraction and a dental implant, which is a more costly and involved procedure.
In any case, if talking about all the options and scenarios makes your dentist uncomfortable, or if they can’t answer your questions, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion. It’s important for you to be informed and educated on every procedure that takes place.