Life is full of imperfections. Luckily, we’ve got solutions to repair many common issues, and fixing some of your dental imperfections can be done quickly and easily. The use of dental crowns provides both an aesthetic and functional purpose in restoring a healthy and attractive smile.
What is a Crown?
Just as the name implies, a crown sits atop your tooth. And while it may not be royalty, it does provide your tooth with protection. The dental crown is a cemented restoration that partially or completely covers the outside of the tooth; you may also hear it referred to as a cap. A crown needs to be done when a cavity has destroyed the tooth too much or when a big filling failed, broke, or developed cavities underneath. The purpose of the dental crown is largely to restore your tooth’s strength and integrity. By doing so, a crown is one of the best options in extending the life of the tooth.
There are times, however, when only minimal tooth damage exists and a partial crown can be used instead of capping the entire tooth. These are generally used when the tooth does not have enough structure left to support a filling, but trimming for a full crown would unnecessarily remove too much tooth structure. They come in various classes, depending on how much of the tooth needs to be covered:
- Three quarter crown
- Reverse 3/4 crown
- Seven-eighth crown
- One-half crown
- Conservative crowns
Other terminology for partial crowns includes inlays and onlays. An inlay rests inside of the tooth, being surrounded in all directions by tooth structure. An onlay partly covers the tooth and is partly surrounded by tooth structure.
Because partial crowns cap only part of the tooth, the preparation is significantly less than what is needed for a full dental crown or implant. Unlike the more extensive preparation process needed on a full crown, only a relatively small amount of trimming of the tooth is required for a partial. This allows the patient optimal restoration and tooth preservation.
When Do You Need a Crown?
Dental crowns, either full or partial, are widely used after certain dental treatments like implant restorations or root canal treatments. They help the remaining tooth structure by supporting and maintaining its integrity. Partial crowns are indicated only when your tooth structure is healthy, free of cavities, firm, and strong enough to provide sufficient surface area for a better grip and retention of the crown when it is glued. If there is a possibility of periodontal problems or any gum disease or cavities, it is always better to get a full crown as it protects the remaining tooth structure.
One of the more common situations that might require a partial dental crown include broken cusps. Cusps (the pointy ends of the molars) frequently break off of teeth due to trauma or large existing fillings. Since the cusps are the part of the tooth that take the most stress during chewing, they need to be completely covered or the tooth will keep fracturing. Partial crowns present an ideal solution by lowering the possibility of ever needing a root canal on that tooth through a less invasive and more cost-effective form of treatment.
Partial crowns may also be used as a treatment option for cosmetic purposes. Porcelain veneers are crowns that cover only the front and biting edge of teeth. These all-ceramic restorations are usually placed on front teeth to change the color or shape of teeth or to add symmetry and balance to a smile and may not even require preparing or shaving the existing teeth. Since they are at times placed on crooked teeth, treatment with veneers has sometimes been referred to as “instant orthodontics.”
Small changes often have a big impact, and partial crowns are a prime example. Their use can address both aesthetic and structural issues in your overall dental health. Regular checkups with your dentist will ensure that your teeth and gums are strong and healthy.
Ready to Improve Your Smile? Our team at LifeSmiles by Randy Mitchmore, DDS is ready to create a anxiety-free treatment plan for any crowns or dental implants. Call our friendly, fun office today to schedule your appointment.