The dental crown, which is a cap that completely surrounds a tooth or dental implant, dates back as far as 200 AD when the Etruscans used gold and other materials as crowns and bridges. Imagine taking a bite of an apple with hunks of precious metals in your mouth! Thankfully, modern dentistry has come a long way and patients today don’t need to worry about a gold grin – unless they want to!
Your dentist will likely recommend a dental crown if you need to:
- Strengthen a tooth weakened by severe decay or cavity
- Cover an implant
- Replace a large filling
- Protect a natural tooth that is damaged, cracked, or has undergone a root canal
- Align your bite
- Create a more beautiful smile by leveling the size, shape, and color of your teeth
Once your dentist has determined that a crown is the right treatment for you, the next step is to choose the type that will best fit your individual needs. Today, patients are fortunate to have a number of choices when it comes to dental crowns; each have pros and cons and vary depending on materials, cost, procedures, and patients’ needs.
While your dentist will walk you through selecting the best type of crown for your specific situation, we believe education is critical to a positive patient experience. To help in that effort, we’ve broken down the main types of dental crowns below:
Gold Crowns – Despite their name, gold crowns are actually a combination of copper and other metals, such as nickel or chromium. The main advantage of gold crowns is their strength and durability, which makes them suitable for restorations of back teeth. However, because of their color and aesthetics, gold crowns aren’t a very common choice.
All Porcelain Crowns – Made entirely of porcelain material, these are one of the most popular types of crowns used. Their natural look allows them to match your surrounding teeth in shape, size, and color. This makes them an excellent option for front teeth restoration. And, because no metal is used, they are toxic-free. While they are not as strong as metal crowns, porcelain crowns can last a long time if taken care of. It should be noted that while aesthetically pleasing, all porcelains crowns are not for everyone. Patients who grind their teeth or suffer from bruxism, are better off opting for gold or porcelain fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns described below.
Porcelain Fused-to-Metal Crowns (PFM) - Porcelain fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns are another commonly used type of dental crown. Their metal structure provides strength and the porcelain coating makes them aesthetically pleasing. PFM crowns have been used for over 50 years and are known for their durability. They’re also less expensive than an all porcelain option. The main drawback to this type of crown is that the metal may cause a grey line where it meets a patient’s gumline, thus not providing the complete aesthetic benefit of all porcelain crowns. Additionally, for those who clench their teeth, PFM crowns may wear down more easily against the opposing teeth.
Zirconia Crowns - Zirconium is a relatively new material that combines the strength of metal with the aesthetics of porcelain. Their strength and durability make them less likely to wear down, chip, or break. These features, combined with the fact that dentists can cut and shape them in the office (i.e., no lab required), have increased the popularity of high translucent zirconia and layered zirconia crowns. However, their strength can cause the teeth they bite against to wear down easily. Solid zirconia crowns can also be hard to adjust, making exact placement more difficult.
Lithium Disilicate Crowns – Known as E-Max, this is the latest type of crown in dentistry. It is a type of all-ceramic crown made of lithium disilicate, which is extremely light and thin, so less of the tooth needs to be removed for the crowns to fit. These crowns have a blend of translucency and lifelike appearance, that provide great aesthetics, as well as strength, making them a good choice for front or back teeth. The downside of E-MAX crowns is the cost, which puts them at the high end of the spectrum.
Schedule A Crown Consultation
A dental crown is a long-lasting restorative treatment and, though cost is definitely a factor, it’s important to take all options into consideration before deciding. Your dentist will work with you to select the right type of crown for your unique needs. We encourage you to contact our practice if you have questions about any treatment options.