Routine checkups and proper oral hygiene are designed to help patients maintain as many of their natural teeth as possible for as long as possible. By brushing and flossing to minimize plaque and tartar, patients can help reduce their likelihood of tooth decay significantly. Routine professional cleanings will also help remove any lingering plaque and tartar, and will also provide the dentist with an opportunity to check for any early signs of tooth decay. Hopefully, if caught early enough, minor tooth decay can be treated with a quick filling, where very little natural tooth material needs to be removed, and the likelihood of further problems is kept low.
Unfortunately, some patients will find that simple fillings aren’t sufficient. Whether it’s caused by insufficient oral hygiene leading to more severe tooth decay, or a tooth breaks due to injury or long term wear, dentists will occasionally need to recommend procedures involving dental crowns.
Dental crowns are synthetic, lab created caps placed on top of the patient’s natural tooth. They’re frequently recommended when the patient’s tooth root and base is mostly intact, but the removal of a significant portion of the top of the tooth is necessary for some reason. One of the common reasons that the top of the tooth needs to be removed is a root canal: in cases of severe decay, the decay may reach into the central, nerve-rich area of the tooth, where simple fillings are insufficient – in these cases, the dentist will likely recommend a root canal, where the nerve-rich pulp is removed from the center of the tooth. Following the root canal, your dentist will replace the removed material with synthetic resin, and then cap the tooth with a dental crown.
Dental crowns may also be used when teeth are damaged – in some cases, if a tooth is chipped or broken near the top of the tooth, but the root structure remains sound, a dentist may recommend a crown as a way to hold the remaining part of the tooth intact and prevent further fractures. In this case, the crown acts as a protective surfaces, holding the rest of the tooth together and providing strength.
Dental crowns have a number of advantages: they’re typically less expensive than implants, allow patients to maintain some of the existing natural tooth (which helps keep teeth aligned properly), and they provide a strong, durable, but natural looking replacement for the normal tooth surface.
While crowns are considered low risk and have a high success rate, they do typically involve removing a significant amount of natural tooth material, so they are considered irreversible – once you have a crown installed, you will always need a crown on that tooth. If you have a situation where your dentist recommends a crown, talk to your dentist about the types of materials available, the pros, cons, and alternative procedures that may be appropriate given the condition of your teeth.
For more information on dental crowns, contact Dr. Bartz at (708) 430-4440 or visit our website at bartzandbartzdental.com.
Dr. Bartz also welcomes patients from Chicago, Orland Park, Burbank and Palos Hills.