Crowns are most often used for teeth that are broken, worn, or partially destroyed by tooth decay. They are used to strengthen a tooth when there is no longer enough support for a filling or when a nerve treatment has to be performed.
Placing a large filling instead of a crown will often result in fracture of the unsupported tooth structure, which would necessitate further dental treatment.
Crowns are “cemented” onto an existing tooth and fully cover the portion of your tooth above the gum line. In effect, the crown becomes your tooth’s new outer surface.
Crowns for baby teeth and, in some cases, newly erupted permanent teeth are made out of stainless steel. This material is extremely strong but also thin, which allows for the maximum amount of natural tooth structure to be preserved. Stainless-steel crowns are most commonly placed on back teeth (molars), but occasionally may be used in the front if additional support is necessary.
These crowns still need to be brushed just like a natural tooth, and good oral hygiene is imperative for the lifetime of the crown. When the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, the crown will exfoliate (fall out) as a normal tooth would.
Pulpotomies (Nerve Treatment)
When a tooth has a deep cavity or has suffered a traumatic injury, bacterial infection of the nerve can occur. This tends to occur more often and more quickly in primary versus permanent teeth due to their thinner enamel, smaller size and relatively larger nerve. It may be necessary to cleanse and remove the infected portion of the nerve in order to save the tooth. This is a very common procedure performed on primary teeth and after a pulpotomy has been completed, it is necessary to protect the remaining tooth structure with a crown.