When your filling fails or your tooth breaks, what this really means is that your tooth is not strong enough to withstand the beating that you are giving it. Depending on how much of the tooth is filling material, how much is actual tooth (and what shape the remaining structure is in), and what kinds of beating you subject your teeth to (ie, do you clench or grind your teeth, chew ice, bite off fishing line or plastic price tags, open bottles…you get my drift!)–all these factors will be taken into consideration when determining what type of restoration you will need to put you back together again. It could mean that all you need is a simple filling, but it could also mean that you need better and stronger reinforcement, and a crown is in your future. Read on…
Crowns can cover a portion of your tooth. These partial crowns are called inlays (they lay within your tooth) or onlays (they lay over your tooth and cover one or more of your cusps). They can also be full crowns, which cover the entire tooth and hold that big filling and remaining tooth together so you can hang onto your tooth. They can be made of all porcelain, gold, or a combination of metal and porcelain.
Let me lay out what I consider to be some basic reasons to lean towards one material or another. They involve beauty and durability. The most beautiful and lifelike restoration is the all porcelain crown, hands down! Next is the PFM crown (porcelain fused to metal), which is a tooth colored crown with metal substructure for additional strength. Last in the beauty contest is the gold crown–it adds sparkle to your smile, but it might not be the kind of sparkle you’re looking for! As far as durability goes, gold is the ‘gold standard’. It cannot be broken and it holds up beautifully under the harshest of bite forces. Next is the PFM, and last is the all porcelain crown. This doesn’t mean if you have heavy bite forces or some bad habits, that you are destined to have gold; you can still have all porcelain, but you may want to add some protection (that is, a bite guard) for your new crown. Then you can have your cake and eat it too! If you are wondering which one is right for your particular situation, let us guide you through the decision-making process, so you can make the choice that’s right for you. All of these restorations will work in any situation, but the key is how long they will hold up in your mouth under your conditions and habits!