Although teeth are made from one of the hardest, toughest materials in the human body (tooth enamel), they can still be damaged or broken. In some cases, a filling might be all you need to repair a tooth damaged by a cavity or decay. However, sometimes a tooth is not able to be restored with a filling due to extensive decay, a crack or fracture.
In these cases, a more substantial restoration is needed. That’s when a dental crown is needed. A dental crown doesn’t replace the entire tooth but is a more significant restoration than a filling. It’s a crown or cap that fits over the tooth and is meant to restore a tooth’s size, shape, or improve its overall appearance.
If your dentist recommends a crown to you, it helps to understand what your options are and which type of crown will best meet your needs.
What Do Dental Crowns Do?
Dental crowns can a play a variety of different roles in your mouth. A dental professional can place a crown over a tooth when the tooth is significantly damaged by decay and there’s not enough of it remaining for a filling. A crown can also restore or repair a tooth that is significantly chipped, cracked or fractured or even severely discolored.
In some cases, a crown might be placed on top of an implant or used as part of a bridge.
When a dental professional places a crown in the mouth, it is usually firmly cemented into place. Although the exact lifespan of a crown depends on a variety of factors, including your dental habits and the overall health of your mouth, it is possible for a crown to last for many years.
What Types of Dental Crown Are Available?
Dental crowns can be made from a variety of materials. The different materials used influence how the crowns look and how durable or strong they are.
The materials used to create dental crowns include:
- Zirconium crowns: Zirconium is a type of material that is strong like metal but that creates a natural tooth-like appearance. Since zirconium is a very durable material, it’s often used to create crowns for the posterior teeth, which see a lot of wear and tear from chewing.
- Porcelain/ceramic crowns: Usually used to restore the front teeth since they can be colored to match the natural tooth color. They’re more durable than resin but not as durable as metal or porcelain fused to metal crowns. An all-porcelain or all-ceramic crown can also cause wear and tear on neighboring teeth. They’re usually the best pick for people who are allergic to metal.
- Porcelain fused to metal crowns: Porcelain fused to metal crowns can be colored to match a person’s natural tooth color. There are cases when the metal can show through the porcelain, giving the crown a dark gray tint. Porcelain fused to metal crowns tends to be stronger than plain porcelain crowns but not as strong as pure metal crowns.
- Metal alloy crowns: Metal alloy crowns might be made from gold, chromium, or nickel. Since they are made from a strong metal alloy, they’re able to withstand the force of chewing and biting and are less likely to chip or break compared to ceramic and porcelain. For that reason, this type of crown is ideal for replacing molars. The big drawback of a metal crown is that the metal can’t be colored to match the teeth, so the crown can be easy to spot in the mouth and may be higher cost.
Which Type of Crown is Right for You?
There’s no easy “one size fits all” solution when it comes to picking the right type of dental crown. The crown that’s best for you depends on how much of the tooth needs restoration and where in the mouth it’s located.
Your own personal preferences can also influence which type of crown will work best for you. Most patients don’t want a visible metal crown, so a zirconium or ceramic or porcelain fused to metal crown is more ideal, since the crown blends in with the other teeth due to custom shade matching.
Your dental team is here to help you understand the different types of dental crowns available and which options might be best for you. At Klement Family Dental in St. Petersburg, FL, our team of dental professionals can place a crown to repair a damaged tooth or to improve the look of teeth. To learn more about your options for tooth repair or restoration, contact our office for an appointment today. We’re open six days a week for your convenience.