Did you grow up in the 1950’s or 1960’s? If so, you probably have several large silver fillings in your back teeth. Over time, these fillings begin to break down: the margins leak, bacteria invade and the teeth decay. Your dentist replaces the fillings with still larger fillings in order to remove the new decay. In time, these newer fillings also begin to break down. Sometimes the fillings fracture, taking part of the tooth with them. You might be eating a bagel or a potato chip and chomp down on a hard object. It is filling material or tooth.
Sometimes we can replace the lost tooth substance with yet another filling – perhaps a tooth colored one. But other times the too much tooth structure is missing and a crown must be placed in order to properly restore the tooth. A crown surrounds the remaining tooth and holds it together. There is still another scenario that unfortunately I see too often. In this case the tooth is fractured. Sometimes it can be saved with root canal treatment and crown. But other times, the fracture is vertical and involves the root of the tooth. Then in all likelihood the tooth has to be extracted and an implant or bridge placed.
Many times I taken an emergency phone call from a person in distress from a broken front tooth. The patient arrives at my office and I find that the tooth has broken at the gumline. The tooth may need a crown, a root canal and crown, or if not salvageable, an implant or bridge. To take care of the emergency, I make a temporary crown. I use wonderful materials and I am proficient at creating lifelike temporary crowns which look incredibly natural. The procedure doesn’t take long and is not painful. The patient is always thrilled at how natural the temporary crown looks. No one wants to walk around without a front tooth.
We place enormous pressure on the teeth when we chew and especially if we clench or grind our teeth. In time, this pressure causes micro fractures in a tooth, and eventually the tooth can fracture. If I see large fillings that are worn out, I will recommend a crown to protect the tooth before a fracture occurs. This is prevention. This helps save your teeth.