Q: I have a broken tooth and my dentist says I need a crown. I don’t want a crown. It’s too expensive. I just want a filling but they won’t do it. Why can’t they just fill it?
A: This is a great question. If I had a nickel for every time I get asked this ...
Let me share with you the reason why a filling cannot be done in place of a crown. As I’m sure you know, fillings are generally needed when a tooth has become decayed. The decayed part of the tooth is removed and the tooth is “filled” with a composite or resin filling material.
Silver fillings are not used much anymore these days. In an instance where the tooth is severely decayed or broken, that tooth must be restored by means other than with a filling. When a tooth is severely decayed or broken there is a significant portion of it that is lost. This means there is insufficient tooth structure remaining to replace it with a filling.
You can think of this in terms of a house. Most houses have four walls and a roof. The same is true with a tooth; it has a front, a back, two sides and the top or biting surface. If a house loses a couple of walls and part of the roof it will no longer be able to support itself and collapse. The very same thing is true with a broken tooth.
Once the tooth has broken, a crown is necessary to protect, cover and conserve the remaining tooth structure.
There are many types of crowns available but the most common have a metal structure covered by porcelain. The porcelain covering is tooth-colored and the shade is custom matched to your adjacent teeth.
Generally, when a tooth is broken it is necessary to replace the part that is broken by building the tooth back up to its original height and contour. The crown’s metal understructure is cast from an impression of the tooth once it has been built back up. Once the dental lab has fabricated the crown, it is permanently cemented in place. With proper care these restorations will last a long while.
I understand that cost is a concern. It is for just about everyone these days but a crown is the best possible option for keeping the tooth healthy for a lifetime.
Questions can be sent to Fred Eck, D.D.S. at Marco Dental Care, 950 N. Collier Blvd., Suite 305, Marco Island, or call 389-9400. Web site: marcodentalcare.com. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Detroit Mercy and is licensed by the Florida State Board of Dentistry.