Is a partial crown or a full crown better for a cracked tooth?

When I was eating popcorn the other night, I cracked one of my back teeth on the bottom. I can see the crack when I look at the tooth in the mirror. Because I don’t have a lot of money,  I have been trying to research how to fix it the cheapest way and have found information about crowns and partial crowns to fix it. Can you tell me which is going to be best for me?

Rhett, West Virginia

Dear Rhett,

This is difficult to answer without seeing your tooth. There are different types of cracked teeth, some of which are hardly noticable and some that warrant a trip to the emergency dentist. You may have cracked just the enamel on the surface, or the crack may go down into the middle part of the tooth that houses the pulp. The crack may go just across one corner or may go all the way across the tooth. The point of treating a cracked tooth is to prevent it from fracturing or getting further damaged, and also preventing infection.

How to fix a cracked tooth?

Because of the risk of additionally damaging the tooth, a full crown is typically the treatment preferred by dentists. This a more long-term approach to protecting the tooth because it completely covers the tooth.

A partial crown, or onlay, is an option only for certain types of cracks in a tooth. Onlays cover the surface of the tooth used for chewing, not the whole tooth. For minor cracks, an onlay may work if it is made of a good material. A gold onlay is the most durable for any crack in the surface of the tooth. Porcelain or other composite materials may not hold up against the rigorous chewing done with those back teeth. Some dentists don’t recommend onlays simply because they are not comfortable placing them.

Visit your dentist and find out the severity of your cracked tooth and if an onlay is an option for protect it. Your dentist may be able to work with you on an affordable treatment plan if a crown is what is recommended for you.

This post is sponsored by Dr. Ryan Perry in Baton Rouge, LA.




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