A dental crown is a tooth-shaped "cap" that is placed over a tooth - covering the tooth to restore its shape and size,
strength, and/or to improve its appearance.
The crowns, when cemented into place, fully encase the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum
Since a dental crown that has been cemented into place essentially becomes the new outer surface for the tooth, it is
easy to imagine how the placement of a crown can restore a tooth to its original shape. It's also easy to see how a dental
crown can help to strengthen a tooth by way of being a hard outer shell that encases the tooth structure that lies within it.
For both of these reasons, dental crowns are routinely made for teeth that have broken, worn excessively, or else have
had large portions destroyed by tooth decay.
It is conceivable that a dental filling, as an alternative, could be used as a means to restore a tooth's shape. Dental
crowns however offer your dentist a big advantage over dental fillings by way of the fact that they are fabricated "away from
your mouth." By this we simply mean that dental crowns are fabricated in a dental laboratory (by a dental technician using
plaster molds your teeth). Dental fillings, in comparison, are created "in your mouth" by way of your dentist placing the
filling material directly upon your tooth.
When a dental crown is made the dental laboratory technician can visualize and examine all aspects of your bite and jaw
movements, from a variety of angles, and then sculpt your dental crown so it has the perfect anatomy. In comparison,
when a dentist places a dental filling they have far less control over the final outcome of the shape of your tooth because it
is often difficult for them to visualize, evaluate, and access to the tooth on which they are working.
From a standpoint of strength considerations, there are some types of filling materials that can bond to tooth structure.
For the most part, however, dental fillings are not considered to substantially strengthen a tooth in the same way that a
dental crown, with its rigid encapsulation a tooth, can.
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