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Preserving tooth structure

Every dentist has his or her own style when it comes to prepping a tooth for a crown or bridge. Some remove all undercuts while others prefer a more conservative approach.

There are pros and cons to each method, which we’ll cover here.

A beautiful fit

Some dentists grind away all undercuts for a tight, smooth fit for crowns and bridges. An advantage to this prep style is that patients often leave the office thrilled with their new tooth. However, over-prepping can lead to the removal of too much tooth structure, causing the restoration to fail prematurely. Over-prepped crowns are sometimes prone to cracking, which leads to more serious dental problems.

Long-term viability

Conservatively prepped teeth generally correlate with much stronger tooth structure. While few restorations will last forever, sound tooth structure will typically add many years of continued stability for bridges and crowns.

There should be a balance between aesthetics and longevity, but leaning towards preserving tooth structure is the preferred approach when looking to avoid premature failure.

What to do about undercuts?

Small undercuts can often be repaired with bonding or miracle mix to prevent the removal of additional healthy tooth structure. The crown will now have a suitable surface to which it can be adhered. This decision should be made on a case-by-case basis, bearing in mind the condition of the tooth and desires of the patient.

An easier fix

When an over-prepped tooth fractures it can sometimes be repaired with an additional crown, sometimes a root canal is necessary and in the case of a break down to the pulp, the tooth will usually need to be extracted and replaced with an implant.

With sufficient tooth structure, a failed crown can often be replaced with a new crown. This makes the job easier for the dentist and less troublesome for the patient.