Dental crowns are a common dental treatment used to restore the appearance and function of damaged, broken, or decayed teeth. They are also used for cosmetic purposes to improve the appearance of teeth.
Crowns are dental caps that cover the entire visible portion of an existing tooth in order to provide long-lasting protection and support.
Before a crown can be placed, the dentist must determine whether there is enough tooth structure remaining to support the restoration.
In this article, we will discuss the factors that determine the amount of tooth structure needed, as well as possible alternatives in the event that there isn’t enough tooth for a crown.
How much tooth structure is enough?
A dental crown requires a significant portion of the tooth structure to act as a core foundation for the new crown. This means that there must be enough healthy tooth material left to support the crown and prevent further damage to the tooth.
If there is not enough healthy tooth structure, it can lead to a number of complications. A poorly fitted crown can cause discomfort or sensitivity when biting or chewing. It can also result in the crown becoming loose, falling off, or causing damage to the surrounding teeth.
In the worst case scenario, if there is not enough tooth structure available, the crown may not be able to provide adequate protection to the remaining structure of the tooth, and eventually lead to further damage or decay.
How much tooth is reduced for a crown?
Tooth reduction is a crucial step in the crown placement process. In this process, a dentist removes a portion of the tooth’s outer layer to make room for the crown. The amount of tooth reduction required for a crown depends on various factors, including the following:
- The type of dental crown: There are different types of crowns available, each of which is made from different materials, such as all-metal, all-ceramic, porcelain-fused-to-metal, and zirconia crowns. The amount of tooth reduction needed varies based on the type of material that is used to make the crown. For example, all-metal crowns typically require the least amount of tooth structure to be removed, while porcelain or ceramic crowns may require more tooth structure to be removed in order to achieve the desired shape and fit.
- The location of the tooth: Front teeth require less reduction than the back teeth. Front teeth are thinner, therefore the dentist will have to preserve as much of the tooth’s natural structure as possible. On the other hand, teeth that are located in areas of the mouth that are subject to a lot of biting and chewing, such as molars, may require more tooth structure to be removed in order to provide the necessary support for the crown.
- The size of the tooth: Larger teeth require more reduction than smaller teeth.
- The amount of damage to the tooth: If the tooth is severely damaged or has a large dental filling, a crown may be necessary to provide support and prevent further damage. However, depending on the severity of the damaged tooth, more reduction may be required to create space for the crown.
The goal of preparing a tooth for a crown is to remove enough tooth structure to create a stable foundation for the crown while preserving as much healthy tooth structure as possible. This can help to ensure that the tooth remains strong and functional over the long term.
Dentists typically remove 1.5 to 2 millimeters of tooth structure for a crown. This is generally enough space to accommodate the crown and ensure a proper fit. However, in some cases, more or less tooth reduction may be necessary. The more damaged or weakened a tooth is, the more tooth structure will need to be removed in order to provide adequate support for the crown.
In any case, it’s important to note that this is a minimally invasive procedure that can provide significant long-term benefits for the health and function of your teeth.
What if there’s not enough tooth for a crown?
If a tooth does not have enough healthy structure to support a crown, there are several treatment options available, including:
- Crown buildup: A build-up is a procedure in which the dentist adds material to the remaining tooth structure to increase its size and provide a better foundation for a crown. This can be done using composite resin, amalgam, or other materials.
- Dental veneers: Dental veneers are thin shells of porcelain or composite resin that are custom-made to fit over the surface of the teeth. Veneers can be used to restore small amounts of tooth structure, making them a possible option for teeth that do not have enough structure to support a crown.
- Dental bonding: Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin is applied to the tooth and then hardened with a special light. Like veneers, bonding can also be used to add structure to teeth that do not have enough to support a crown.
- Root canal procedure: When a tooth has significant decay or damage, a root canal treatment may be required. During this procedure, the dentist removes the dental pulp from the tooth and replaces it with a filling material. A crown is placed above this tooth to protect it from breaking.
- Extraction: If the tooth cannot be saved or the dental procedures mentioned above are not viable options, the tooth may need to be extracted. The dentist will then provide you with alternative options for tooth replacement, such as:
- Dental implant: An implant is the best option for replacing missing teeth. An implant is an artificial tooth root that is placed within the jawbone with a permanent crown that is attached to the implant. An implant completely restores the patient’s chewing ability and retains the health of the bone structure long-term.
- Dental bridge: A bridge is used to replace a missing tooth with a crown that is supported by the adjacent teeth. This is a great option if the adjacent teeth are strong.
- Denture: A denture is a removable prosthetic piece that is designed to replace multiple missing teeth.
For any of these procedures, including the dental crown procedure, a general dentist will first need to evaluate the tooth. Based on the amount of remaining tooth structure and the overall condition of your tooth, they can recommend the best treatment plan.
Some procedures, like dental implants and veneers, should be performed by cosmetic dentists. Our team of professionals at Kootenai Dental Group in Coeur d’Alene, ID can help you make an informed decision on the best restorative treatment based on your needs.
Call us today at 208-762-8750 to schedule your appointment.
Frequently asked questions
Can a crown be placed on a tooth that is badly broken or has a large filling?
In some cases, a crown can be placed on a tooth that is badly broken or has a large filling. However, it ultimately depends on the amount and condition of the remaining tooth structure.
A dental professional will evaluate the tooth to determine if a crown is a good option or if another type of dental procedure, such as a dental implant or bridge, may be a better solution. Dr. Delwyn Dick (DDS) and Dr. Lamont Murdoch (DDS) have over 25 years of experience in these type of dental care and restorative treatments in Coeur d’Alene, ID.
Is tooth reduction for a crown painful?
No, tooth reduction for a crown is not painful. The dentist numbs the area with a local anesthetic, so the patient doesn’t feel any pain.
Can half a tooth be crowned?
Yes, it is possible to crown half a tooth.
When a tooth is partially damaged or decayed, it is often possible to crown just the remaining healthy portion of the tooth. This is done to preserve as much natural tooth structure as possible and avoid the need for more invasive procedures.