Do I Really Need a Crown? 7 Things You Should Ask Before Getting a Dental Crown

Do I Really Need a Crown?

7 Things You Should Ask Before Getting a Dental Crown

I speak with patients all the time about crowns. Frequently, people do not know what a crown is or why it is recommended for their specific tooth. People routinely wonder “Do I really need a crown?” and perceive that the dentist just wants to make more money, when the dentist really wants to help protect the patient’s dental health in the long run.

Dental crowns are basically a “cap” for a damaged tooth. Dental crowns are permanent restorations used to reinforce teeth that are severely damaged — but not so damaged that tooth extraction is the only solution.

Dentists frequently a recommend crowns if your original tooth is cracked, chipped, or broken. A dental crown is often your best option to make your tooth last longer than you do!

You may need a crown if your tooth has a filling that is very large and has decayed again, if your existing filling is too large for your tooth to support a new filling, if your tooth is worn down. Sometimes discolored teeth are recommended to have a crown placed.

Sedona Dentist Chris Marsh will take the time to explain why a crown should be considered for your dental health. He will explain to you your choices before recommending a crown or set of crowns. Dr. Marsh considers you a partner in maintaining your dental health and he will work with you to optimize your well-being and prevent dental disease. If you live in the Verde Valley and have been told by another dentist that you need a crown, please come see us for a free second opinion.


7 Things You Should Ask Your Dentist Before Getting A Crown

1. Why does my tooth need a crown?

Show me the tooth and why a dental crown is the preferred treatment for my tooth. If you have dental pain when biting down, or intermittent chewing sensitivity, your tooth may be cracked. Unlike a cracked bone, your tooth will not heal itself. A cracked tooth is serious and can lead to your tooth being lost, so a crown usually is required. Have you ever had dental pain or discomfort when biting into food or after eating/drinking something that is hot or cold?  This pain or discomfort might not be constant like it is with a cavity, but intermittent.  If so, it is possible you may have a cracked tooth. If the crack goes into the nerve of your tooth, you may need a root canal.

2. What are my choices?

There are major differences between a crown and a dental filling. They often accomplish the same thing, repairing decay or a fractured part of at tooth. Often a large filling can be placed, but it will not protect your tooth in the long term from fracturing. If you have large existing fillings with vertical cracks evident, a crown may be your better option. It is not sensible to use a dental filling to repair a cracked tooth.

3. What are the consequences of waiting?

Sometimes nothing will happen to your tooth. It just stays the same. Sometimes your tooth will fracture.

There are three types of fractures: Good, Bad and Ugly!

A “good” fracture is when a piece of your tooth breaks off, but there is no pain, the nerve of the tooth is still healthy and other that being sharp to your tongue, your tooth doesn’t hurt.

A “bad” fracture is when your tooth breaks, and you have pain. Sometimes the fragment is still attached to your gum, almost the same thing if you’ve torn a fingernail and it is still “attached” to your skin. You know that is going to be painful. In these cases you may need a root canal as well as a surgery to remove the fractured piece.

An “ugly” fracture is when a crown will no longer work to repair your tooth. Your only option is to have the tooth amputated (extracted). The tooth often is vertically split. Replacing a vertically split tooth often requires a dental implant or a fixed bridge.

If you want to keep your natural tooth a crown may be your better choice. At Sedona Dentist Chris Marsh, we always want to discuss your choices If you are nervous about getting a dental crown placed, talk with Dr. Marsh.  Having a conversation with him could go a long way toward making you feel more comfortable with this procedure.

4. Will I also need a Root Canal?

It is not always necessary to get a root canal if you have a crown placed. Getting a root canal does not always require a crown and vice versa.

When Dr. Marsh places a dental crown on a tooth, it is always his hope that this will be the last procedure that the tooth will need for an awfully long time. But remember, usually crowns are recommended for imperfect teeth. Your tooth may have been subjected to numerous fillings, or replacement fillings, stress from chewing, micro-fractures that allow leakage of bacteria in your mouth to the nerve of your tooth causing a “stressed pulp”. These are situations where a tooth that needs a crown may also need a root canal.

Stop by our Sedona dental office if you think you need either of these treatments.

5. Does an old, really large silver or tooth-colored filling mean I need a crown?

Fillings don’t last forever, unfortunately. What is fortunate, however, is that choices with fillings have changed. In the past metal mercury containing silver fillings were commonly placed, and they don’t look too attractive. This doesn’t mean that you need to replace every single silver filling immediately. There are a few factors that can help you decide if now is the right time to replace old fillings. If your old silver filling covers more than 2/3 of your tooth, and filling is showing signs of weakness or decay, it might be time to consider placing a crown. If you choose a large filling instead, the filling can act like a wedge when you chew, putting pressure on the tooth and causing fractures. Placing a crown earlier might save you additional visits and cost later.

6. How long do crowns last?

The life span of a crown depends on how well you keep your mouth clean with daily hygiene, and how much wear and tear you put on your teeth. Some crowns can last a lifetime, while others can need replacement after a few years.

7. What types of dental crowns are there?

Ask your dentist to explain the different types of dental crowns, the types of materials and their advantages and disadvantages to you.