How to know if you really need a crown on a tooth

Dentists apply crowns to broken, cracked or damaged teeth that are too damaged to be repaired with a restoration. A crown replaces a part of the tooth and provides more support than a restoration. Crowns cover a damaged tooth, hold it together and improve its appearance. In addition to protecting damaged teeth, it prevents pain and infection. Only a qualified dentist can correctly determine if a tooth needs a crown, but you can do your own evaluation to determine if a tooth is a possible candidate for a crown.

Examine the presence of a cavity in the tooth. A cavity is a decayed area on the tooth. Large cavities may need a crown instead of a filling.

Eat foods or drink beverages that are hot, cold, sweet or sour for sensitivity testing on the tooth. Intermittent sensitivity is a symptom of a crack in the tooth. Also note any sharp pain you experience when chewing, as this is another sign of a crack that may need a crown.

Inspect the restoration of the tooth, if it has one. Is the restoration small or large? Large fillings require a greater extraction of the tooth before restoring it, which makes the teeth more susceptible to the formation of cracks and breaks. Teeth with old restorations are also candidates for a crown.

Check the surfaces on the tooth. The broken cusps must be crowned.

Turn a bright light on the tooth to look for a break. If the light shines through the crack, it is probably not serious. If the crack blocks the light, it is a deep fracture. A tooth with multiple fractures needs a crown. A crown applied to a cracked tooth prevents it from breaking.


  • A dentist performs an X-ray study and a bite analysis to examine a broken tooth and determine the need for a crown.
  • Crowns are also applied for aesthetic reasons. They hide the ugly but healthy part of the tooth, whether it is discolored or deformed.
  • A small fissure in the enamel of the teeth does not justify a crown.


  • Only a dentist can correctly determine the need for a crown on a tooth. Consult a dental professional to assess the damage of a tooth or teeth with decay.
  • Some teeth require a root canal treatment before the crown can be applied.
  • Soft teeth do not need crowns, per se. However, they are more prone to cavities and may require crowns if they become carious.