Its easy to think of crowns as a save-all for cavities, cracked teeth and other dental disasters. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There are many situations where a crown will simply not improve the condition or longevity of a damaged tooth. The main benefit of crowns is that they restore strength to broken down teeth by creating a full coverage "cap" around the remaining structure. However, this means the tooth needs to have good gum and bone support along with some (minimal) amount of remaining tooth to hold on to.
Firstly, a crown will do nothing to benefit a tooth with severe bone loss or gum disease. Splinting a tooth with periodontal disease to a healthy tooth may seem like a great way to stabilize roots and create a more sturdy anchor. However, research shows this is not the case and splinting teeth can actually create plaque traps that accelerate bone loss. In most instances, placing a crown on a tooth with poor bone support is ill advised and can further hinder its longevity in your mouth.
In terms of restoring severe tooth decay or fractured teeth, crowns still have certain limitations. There needs to be a minimal amount of dental enamel and dentin above the gum line for the crown to be cemented upon. Procedures like root canals/posts, crown lengthening and orthodontics allow dentists to create more structure for the crown. However, there is a limit to how much can be done for a specific tooth. Generally speaking, teeth that are broken off at or below the gum line are usually impossible to save with a crown. If saving them is an option, it is almost always more economical and predictable to remove the tooth and replace it with an implant.
Overall, crowns are an excellent way to recreate the bulk or body of a damaged tooth. Still, it is important to acknowledge their limitations. In some circumstances, removing the tooth in question and replacing it with a bridge or implant is the more favorable option. If you would like to know more about crowns, implants, bridges or other tooth replacement procedures, please give our office a call!