If you catch a cavity early enough, it can usually be treated with a filling. However, a cavity that has gone untreated can damage a tooth so severely that a filling is no longer enough to restore the tooth. When fillings are insufficient, your dentist can use a dental crown to protect and restore your tooth. Dental crowns can also be used to support weakened or damaged teeth. Depending on the nature of the issue, you may only require an inlay or an onlay – often called partial crowns.
What Are Dental Crowns?
A dental crown is a protective cap that is fitted over a damaged tooth, to restore its ability to perform chewing and biting functions, and safeguard it from further damage. A dental crown can be constructed from one of several materials, like zirconia, porcelain-fused-to-metal, or composite. The selected material will affect the appearance and strength of the crown. Your dentist can help you determine which material will best suit your individual needs. Inlays and onlays are two types of partial crowns. Inlays protect the inner space between a tooth’s cusps, while onlays can cover a side of a tooth, including a cusp or cusps. Partial crowns can be used to address specific affected areas of a tooth.
When Are Dental Crowns Used?
A dental crown is often used to restore a tooth that has received a root canal treatment. Cavities that require root canal treatment have often decayed too much of the tooth for a filling to adequately restore its function. A crown can also be affixed over a tooth that has been weakened, or cracked, to help keep the tooth together, and return it to proper function.