You’ve probably heard the term before, but do you know what it means to “crown” a tooth? What is a dental crown? Why is it done? Simply put, a crown is needed when the amount of breakdown of the tooth has exceeded its ability to be restored with a filling.
When you’ve got a small cavity we can clean it out and put a small filling in there in about 30 minutes. No problem. But what if that cavity gets so big, that the filling we’d have to put in would be larger than the amount of tooth remaining? Or what if there’s already a big filling in that tooth that has a cavity underneath it? What if the filling is SO BIG, that the tooth around it is starting to crack and crumble?
In these cases, the cavity has gotten so large, that the outer surface of the tooth is no longer reinforced enough to support the weight of your bite. These are cases where crowns are the preferred treatment option.
A crown is a new lease on life for your tooth. The defective outer layer is removed, as well as any old filling material and cavity. A new enamel-like shell is then made that fits over the inner core of your tooth.
But what if the old filling is so large, that there’s not enough tooth left to support a crown?
In some cases, the hole left by the old filling or cavity is so large, that there’s only a small amount of tooth left to hold on your crown. In these cases, we add something called a “buildup”.
A buildup replaces the tooth material lost by the cavity or breakdown to create enough structure to hold the crown securely in place. They are made from a material similar to our white fillings and are bonded to the tooth just like our fillings.
Buildups don’t take long to complete and are usually done at the same appointment as the crown. Once the tooth is properly built up, a crown is made to fit over it just as it would with any other tooth. What’s important is that in the end, you walk out with a brand new tooth!
Dr. Zack Goldman and Dr. Alexis Cenami