Even when you damage a tooth badly, your priority should be to save that tooth however you can. Most dentists will be of the same opinion. But for a traditional dental crown to work efficiently, enough tooth structure should be available. Otherwise, the crown could fail prematurely, destroying the remains of the tooth in the process.

So, while a tooth can be too small for a traditional dental crown, there are several ways to remedy this.

Crown lengthening can make more tooth structure available

When a tooth breaks down to the gum line, this leaves very little tooth structure to support a crown. Fortunately, if that tooth still has a good amount of healthy tooth and bone below the gum line, then crown lengthening can help.

The crown is the top part of a tooth. To make a crown larger, a dentist lowers the gum line via surgery. And they may lower the bone line to make more tooth structure available. This then provides enough tooth structure to provide a sturdy base for a dental crown.

A post and crown can provide additional support

If a tooth has had a root canal in the past and thus has no nerve, then a dentist can insert a post into the remains of the tooth. They can then place a crown on this post. The post will essentially replace the lost tooth structure and provide the crown with a sturdy base.

But if a dentist examines the remains of a tooth and determines that it is too weak for a post, then composite resin might be another possible option.

Composite resin can be used to bolster a tooth

When there is very little remaining tooth structure and crown lengthening and a post and crown are out of the question, composite resin might help. A skilled dentist can build up a damaged tooth using composite resin. To do this, they add the resin to the tooth, harden it with UV light, and then place the dental crown on top of the composite resin.

The downside to this approach is that composite resin isn't as strong as a natural tooth, and so the crown could fail faster than a traditional crown.

A dental implant or bridge might be the answer

When a tooth is so badly weakened that a crown is out of the question, then a dental implant or dental bridge are two other options. Dental implants act exactly as natural teeth do, with a crown on top. But they take several months to heal.

Dental bridges place crowns on the teeth adjacent to a missing tooth to support a false tooth that hides the missing tooth. This is a faster option than a dental implant, but you will need to sacrifice part of an adjacent tooth for the crown placement.