Sometimes a dental filling is simply not enough to restore a tooth and a dental crown is recommended. The most common reason for needing a crown is tooth decay, but there are other reasons for crowns like worn-down teeth or fractures. A custom crown has unique properties that can restore your smile and function so that you will leave with a new tooth you can be proud of.
Crown materials vary based on your needs, the tooth location, and budget. There are several options for crown materials to deliver a new tooth that is strong enough for chewing, but also looks just like your natural tooth. There is no one type of dental crown that serves all people. The crown materials and laboratory will impact the appearance, durability and fit of your crown, which is why it is important to discuss your needs with your dentist. Investing in a crown is investing in your future oral health, so understanding what goes in your mouth is important.
There are several types of crown materials that your dentist may offer. Some of the most common types of crowns include the following:
Ceramic crowns are handcrafted crowns composed of porcelain and are preferred by most patients because of their highly esthetic materials. They closely match the look of natural teeth and can even be carved in a single office session from a ceramic block using CAD/CAM technology. Many people request ceramic crowns because they are also biocompatible and are a great option for anyone with a metal allergy.
The most common types of ceramic crowns offered are Zirconia crowns, E-max crowns, and Lava crowns because of their incredible aesthetic properties.
Zirconia crowns are actually composed of zirconium dioxide, which is a durable type of metal, but they are still classified as an all-ceramic crown. Zirconia crowns are one of the best types of crowns in the dental industry because of their combined aesthetics and durability. They are recommended for anterior teeth because they are long-lasting and reliable and most importantly, can be fabricated at a dental office avoiding the need for a laboratory and additional visits.
They have so many advantages over other crown materials, but because of their high strength, careful treatment plans are required. Zirconia is over five times stronger than porcelain, which is good for people that bite their nails or grind their teeth, but it can cause damage to opposing natural teeth if a person chronically grinds or clenches. Lastly, solid zirconia material can be difficult to adjust compared to other crown materials.
E-max crowns are popular all-ceramic crowns fabricated from lithium disilicate. This type of crown is recommended for people who are looking for great aesthetics. They can be easily used for anterior and posterior teeth because of their strong durability against chewing forces. Dentists and patients prefer E-max crowns to other crown materials because they can be milled from a single block of ceramic in a single dental visit using CAD/CAM technology. This type of crown avoids uncomfortable impressions, multiple dentist visits, and temporary crowns. They are often used for highly aesthetic areas for veneers and crowns, and are more translucent and lifelike than zirconia crowns.
E-max contains no metal base so there is no dark undertone at the gumline if there happens to be any gum recession. The material is highly recommended because of the strength and resistance properties, but it is also a thin material so reduces excessive removal of natural tooth structure during crown preparation. E-max is not limited to anterior teeth but can be used for inlays, onlays, and even short-span bridges.
The main disadvantage of E-max crowns is that they can be more expensive than other crown materials and require some training to ensure proper fabrication.
Lava crowns have great success because their scientifically and clinically proven materials have shown to be highly aesthetic. They also offer an excellent marginal fit and high strength. Lava crowns are produced by 3M and use the CAD/CAM system to create some of the best dental crowns on the market. They are recommended for people who need a durable crown because of root-canaled teeth or fractures, but they are also used in cosmetic dentistry since they are natural looking.
Lava crowns create a harmonious natural look because they are completely fabricated from ceramic giving them a translucent, blended appearance. They are resilient to cracking and chipping making them a popular choice for all-ceramic crowns, onlays, and inlays.
The main contraindication of using Lava crowns is using them for long-span bridges and they require a specific preparation so that the margin can be properly detected when scanned.
Porcelain crowns are highly aesthetic crowns for anterior teeth because they deliver a perfectly translucent appearance to match your natural teeth. They are metal-free and biocompatible, making them a popular choice for anyone with concerns of metal allergies. Porcelain is often recommended for veneers because of its ability to reshape and correct minor alignment and discoloration issues.
Porcelain does not stain, but it can fracture, therefore it is not recommended for posterior teeth because it can break and crack. While all-porcelain crowns are certainly beautiful, they often come with a higher price tag than competitor crown materials. Lastly, it requires expertise to prepare teeth for porcelain crowns, so going to a cosmetic dentist is imperative.
Porcelain fused to metal (PFM) crowns are one of the most common and popular crowns in dentistry because of their high strength material and acceptable aesthetics. They are cost efficient for people looking for a natural-looking tooth, while not being as expensive.
PFMs are fabricated from a metal alloy with a layer of porcelain on the outer surface to give them a better appearance. They can be used for both anterior and posterior teeth because of their high durability, but most people prefer them solely for the posterior region because of the metal collar.
This type of crown can last decades and is usually a top choice by many dentists because of its high strength and it can be matched to many shades of natural teeth. If you are looking for a reliable, long-lasting, and affordable crown, a PFM may be the best option for you.
It’s main downside is that a significant amount of tooth structure needs to be removed to create a PFM. Aesthetically, they are not the greatest option because of the metal base, but are more frequently used in the posterior region. The metal alloy is a concern if you have any metal allergies as this could cause an increased chance of inflammation of your gums.
Gold crowns have a lot of benefits but are not frequently used nowadays because of their high cost and poor aesthetics. However, gold is a great material choice for crowns because it only requires minimal removal of natural tooth structure, it does not harm your opposing teeth, and it can last a lifetime. Gold is a material that is biocompatible and will not harm your health.
Composite resin crowns are less durable and less expensive than other crown types. They have a natural-looking appearance, but they do not have the strength and durability to last many years. This weakness in material leaves resin crowns vulnerable to fractures and wear. Resin crowns also require a significant amount of tooth structure to be removed to create the crown. The benefits of getting a resin crown are usually short term because they need replacement with more durable crown materials. However, because they are so affordable and look good, many people use them as a temporary crown or stepping stone to an all-ceramic or porcelain crown.
Stainless steel crowns are typically used as a temporary crown for posterior teeth in adults. They can also be used for children for areas of larger tooth decay or worn-down teeth. They are simple to use because they are prefabricated and very affordable. They have poor aesthetics though and are usually not recommended for any aesthetic region. Those with any metal allergies may want to discuss getting a stainless steel crown with their dentist to ensure there are no other metal alloys that can cause a reaction.
Nowadays, there are several crown options depending on your needs. There are many factors that go into choosing a crown type and material and these can be discussed with your dentist.
First Dental Associates offers the highest quality of crown materials to ensure you leave with a new crown that you love and that will serve your needs for many decades.