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Typically, a small hole or fracture in one or more of our teeth requires a relatively simple filling. Your dentist will numb your mouth, create a little space within the tooth, and insert a filling material to keep the tooth together and healthy. Sometimes, however, we damage one or more of our teeth to the point that its structure its compromised. In some cases, a broken tooth can leave a jagged cliff that can damage surrounding parts. This damage can be done through injury and trauma, or through decay. And typically in this situation, your dentist will want to fir for you for a dental crown.

A crown is a tooth like prosthetic device that fits over the damaged tooth. It serves to holding the tooth intact, and to substitute for the natural tooth in terms of function and appearance. Of course, not all cavities and fractures require such lengths for treatment. Your dentist should have the final word, of course, but there are some methods of self-assessment you can perform to get an idea of the likelihood that a crown is in your near future.


1. Look for a cavity. Less severe cavities are typically treated with fillings, but a large one might require a crown. If you notice distinct decay on a tooth (or notice a hole), consult your dentist immediately to have your cavity treated.  

2. Test the tooth for sensitivity. Try a food or beverage that is particularly hot, cold, sweet, or sour. If you notice irregularly timed sensitivity, you're experience a potential symptom of a crack. (You should also note any sharp pains while in the process of chewing, another possible symptom.)

3. Does the tooth have a filling already? If so, consider the size and age of the filling. A large filling required your dentist to remove more tooth when he or she performed it, making the tooth a little more brittle and open to cracking. Not to mention, old fillings often wind up requiring crown coverage toward the end of the material's life span.

4. Check for breaks. A broken tooth, especially one that is jagged and sharp, requires a crown. So don't hesitate.

5. Check for a crack. Shine a light on the tooth, and if the light shines through, you may not be dealing with a serious crack. However, if the light is blocked by the crack, it may indicate a deeper fracture - one that will likely require a crown. Otherwise, your tooth, now made more brittle and fragile from the crack, is more susceptible to breaking.

Do You Need a Crown?

gold crown