Sharing questions taken from Dr. Rubin’s “Ask the Dentist” Home News column.
Question: My dentist wants to crown (cap) another one of my teeth but I hate the idea of having another tooth filed down. Are there any alternative treatments to crowns?
Dr: Rubin: When a tooth has already been filled to its brim with a filling material, it might be time for a crown. Large fillings, especially old silver (almagram) fillings tend to leak at the margins and crack over time, leading to decay underneath.
The dentist must then remove the remnants of the filling along with the decay. A crown can save a tooth which is too weak to refill. The tooth must be encapsulated completely by a porcelain or gold crown for strength.
This does require that the tooth be filed down to make sufficient room for the porcelain or gold.
If there is a fair amount of healthy tooth structure remaining, an alternative to a conventional crown would be an inlay or onlay, which is a custom restoration fabricated in the lab from an impression of your tooth.