Why You Shouldn't Let the Dentist Crown Your Tooth

Updated on March 24, 2018
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Curt Eastin DDS, ND is a holistic dentist, a mercury-free dentist, and a naturopathic physician.

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I hate dental crowns and caps. This statement may surprise you coming from a dentist with more than 25 years experience (15 of those years as a holistic dentist). After all, caps and dentists go together like salt and pepper. Dental caps are considered by many to be the "definitive dental restoration." So how could a dentist be telling you to avoid caps and crowns?

If you've ever had a crowned tooth, you may have experienced this scenario:

  1. You get decay in your tooth.
  2. An amalgam or a composite resin is installed to restore the decayed part of the tooth.
  3. Over time, the tooth fractures or the restoration fails.
  4. The tooth is capped with gold, ceramic, or ceramic fused to metal.
  5. The process of capping the tooth kills the tooth nerve.
  6. Dead nerves cause pain and must be managed with either a root canal or an extraction.

Why Do Crowns Usually Require a Root Canal or Extraction?

The procedure to crown a tooth is very aggressive and may kill the tooth's nerve. Crowning involves grinding away all of the tooth's enamel and a substantial amount of the inner, living dentin. The scientific literature reveals that up to 15% of all crowned teeth will eventually need root canals or extractions because of a dead nerve. If you have a crown and did not need a root canal or an extraction, your troubles are not quite over yet.

If you're like most people, you probably believe that once a tooth is crowned, it will never need any further treatment. After all, you just shelled out a lot of money because you thought a crown is supposed to be the most definitive way to fix a broken down tooth. You forget all about the tooth for five to ten years when out of the blue your dentist tells you that you have developed decay under the crown, and it will have to be replaced. You're shocked by the news.

You have questions: What do you mean the crown is bad? Crowns aren't real, how can they decay? How can a permanent crown need to be replaced? Most consumers believe that once a tooth is capped, that tooth will never require treatment again. Their dentist defined the possibilities for caring for the damaged tooth and proposed a cap as being the best permanent alternative. And so they are alarmed when a number of years down the road they find out the cap has gone bad and requires replacement. Whenever a cap has failed, it implies that decay has developed inside the gap in between the tooth and the crown. About now most people are mystified. How does a cap get a cavity?

Why Do Crowns Fail?

When attempting to explain the reasons why your tooth needs to be worked on once again, your dentist may perhaps say things such as: "Nothing lasts forever" or "the oral cavity is a really hostile environment." They may even pass the responsibility on to you by implying that lousy oral hygiene and microbial plaque at the gum-line caused the crown the fail. The only problem with this answer is that if bad oral hygiene were to blame, every one of your teeth would likely be damaged by decay, not just the single capped tooth.

I don't know about you, but this story doesn't make sense. I'll spare you from the technical mumbo jumbo, but in reality, crowns are destined to fail over time. You see, natural teeth flex under pressure while porcelain and gold crowns don't. Consequently, every time you close your pearly whites together, the tooth tries to flex at the gum line, but it is restrained by the 360-degree encasing effect of the crown.

At this point, we're able to put the pieces together and clarify exactly why a number of crowns break down. Each and every time your teeth bite together (countless times daily), the tooth and the crown both want something different. Your tooth desires to bend, but your cap doesn't. This struggle of rival forces creates tension at the gum-line that eventually breaches the seal in between the crown and your tooth. Once the seal pops and your crown begins to leak, bacteria rushes into the gap, causing a cavity forms.

What's the Remedy for the Issue of Leaking Caps?

Wouldn't it seem reasonable to restore your teeth with techniques that mimic like they function in nature? That is the precise intention of the branch of dental research known as biomimetic dentistry. This is achieved by avoiding crowns on teeth and only placing flexible substances along the gumline. By creating restored teeth that imitate the natural world, the dental restorations are not destined to leak and additionally, unpredicted root canals end up being mostly avoided.

Biomimetic dental techniques are excellent substitutes for crowns, because they mimic the natural tooth under function, provide very long-lasting dental corrections, and radically decrease the requirement for root canals.

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