If a tooth can be saved, your dentist will do their utmost to do so; extraction will be considered an absolute last resort. However, there may come a point where a tooth cannot be rescued and must be removed and replaced with a prosthetic. However, when it comes to dental crowns, a tooth can be decayed to a considerable degree while still being able to be restored. How can a dentist fit a dental crown to a tooth that is already significantly decayed?
The Underlying Tooth
It might seem counterintuitive to add a dental crown to a decayed tooth. However, there will be a protective shell around the tooth, restoring it to its pre-decay size and shape. But there will be a substantial hollow beneath that crown, as the underlying tooth is incomplete. Such a hollow space would create a spot for harmful oral bacteria to accumulate and cause further damage to the tooth. Additionally, the crown would be unable to withstand much bite pressure without an adequate foundation underneath it. As such, damage to the crown—and additional damage to the underlying tooth—would be inevitable.
Creating a Foundation
Your dentist must create an adequate foundation before applying the dental crown, otherwise, the whole process will prove to be redundant. To add this foundation, your dentist must rebuild the tooth, while also protecting it against future complications. This means that while the tooth will be rebuilt, it might require a root canal before this can occur. While nobody is thrilled at the prospect of a root canal, it can be a necessary step in the process, but this won't necessarily be the case for everyone. Generally, a tooth can sometimes decay while leaving the tooth's internal pulp chamber (where the nerve is located) intact.
Rebuilding a Tooth
A tooth is rebuilt by adding composite resin in layers, which are then light-cured so they harden. Once enough layers have been added to restore the size of the tooth, a dental crown can be added, which fits over the entirety of the rebuilt tooth without any problematic hollows. The composite resin on its own will not be sufficient to restore the tooth's strength and general functionality, which is why the necessary casing (the dental crown) must be added as a finishing touch.
Even a significantly decayed tooth can be restored via composite resin and a dental crown, so while you might think that you'll need to say goodbye to a compromised tooth, it can be a happy surprise to learn that it can often stay right where it is—with some assistance from your dentist. Contact a dentist for more information regarding dental crowns.