Dentists rely on a wide variety of materials and options to treat each case, such as composite resin, different types of dental crowns, and veneers.
Dental composite resin is usually the material of choice to treat teeth damaged by decay or fractures. However, this material also has limitations and is not recommended for extensive tooth damage.
In these cases, dental crowns are the best alternative to efficiently restore and protect the tooth. Fortunately for us, they do not only restore function but also their aesthetic properties.
But there are many types of dental crowns, each with unique properties and indications. This is why the dental crown selection is an essential step, as it can determine the success of the treatment.
Not too long ago, we received a patient complaining about a crown on one of his upper front teeth. He stated that he got his crown a few years back, and a gray color on the gum line bothered him.
Upon examination, I found that he was wearing a porcelain-fused-to-metal crown and the gray defect was just the metallic base. Unfortunately, this common defect can sometimes occur with these dental crowns. Therefore, we replace it with a crown with better aesthetic properties.
This is only a short example of what could happen if you don’t get the best type of dental crown according to your situation. Fortunately, I can give you all the information necessary to make the right choice and ensure a long-lasting restoration.
If you are in San Diego and want to get teeth crowns in Del Mar City, book a free consultation with Blyss Dental and improve your oral health.
What is a dental crown?
A dental crown is a prosthetic restoration used to preserve teeth with extensive damage. These restorations act as a cap that covers the tooth entirely while mimicking its natural appearance and color. They are designed to restore both aesthetic and tooth function.
It is essential to understand that making this type of restoration usually involves a dental laboratory. Crowns are made outside the patient’s mouth using a dental impression. After the dentist prepares the tooth, the dentist delivers the dental impression to the laboratory so the technician can make the crown.
The laboratory then delivers the crown back to the dental office, where the dentist can finally cement it. This process can take a few days. However, some dentists have their own equipment in the office to make the crown, which decreases the waiting time.
There are a few types of dental crowns. Therefore, the dentist and patient have a wide selection of materials to choose from and ensure the treatment’s success.
What are the types of dental crowns?
Tooth crowns are divided into groups according to what they are made of. The types of teeth crowns available in San Diego include the following:
Each dental crown material has proven to be efficient and capable of delivering outstanding results. However, they all possess characteristics that make them excel in different scenarios.
Below are the different types of dental crowns and their benefits and disadvantages. Read on to help you decide which type best suits your needs.
Type 1: Porcelain-fused-to-metal
Porcelain-fused-to-metal crown (PFM) is one of the most common dental crown types. They have been the standard for over 50 years and provide predictable results. PFM combines the resistance and strength of metal with the aesthetic properties of porcelain.
These crowns have a frame made of an alloy of different metals. This alloy usually contains metals such as nickel, chromium, and palladium.
However, it varies depending on the manufacturer and dental lab. Porcelain is then fused to the outer portion of the metallic frame to hide the gray color.
Pros and Cons of PFM Crowns
|Insurance Coverage: All dental insurance will cover this type of crown. Other types may be considered upgrades and may have extra cost
|Dark line: The most noticeable disadvantage of PFM is a dark line that can appear at the gum line after a few years. This is caused by the metallic frame and tends to show when the gums recede. It doesn't cause any harm, but it can be unpleasant.
|Resistance: The metallic frame makes it sturdy and capable of withstanding biting forces
|Invasive prepping: The dentist needs to remove a bit more dental tissues compared to other alternatives.
|Cost: They are more affordable than metal-free crowns.
Type 2: Porcelain
These types of dental crowns are an alternative to traditional PFM crowns. In this case, the crown does not have a metallic frame and is made entirely of porcelain. All-porcelain crowns have gained popularity as they offer better aesthetic properties.
Pros and Cons of Porcelain Crowns
|Aesthetic: All-porcelain crowns reflect light better, which results in a more natural-looking result.
|Resistance: These crowns are usually less resistant than other alternatives
|Biocompatibility: People with metal allergies won't suffer any harm from this type of crown.
|Wear: Although porcelain crowns are less resistant, all-porcelain crowns can wear down the tooth on the opposite dental arch.
|Cost: They can be more expensive than other options containing metal.
Type 3: Zirconia
Zirconia is a ceramic material that has become one of the best teeth crown alternatives. This metal-free material is highly biocompatible and offers outstanding aesthetic properties.
Furthermore, it is resistant and doesn’t fracture easily. I recommend Zirconia crowns for my patients who have a strong bite.
Pros and Cons of Zirconia Crowns
|Biocompatibility: Zirconia is one of the most biocompatible materials in dentistry.
|Aesthetic: Zirconia usually offers great aesthetic properties. However, its color scheme is slightly opaque and can make it hard to match the color of the other teeth in some cases. This flaw can be prevented by adding a thin layer of ceramic. Nonetheless, this layer is prone to chipping.
|Resistance: Zirconia is the strongest non-metallic crown. Although it doesn't have a metallic frame, Zirconia crowns can withstand biting forces without chipping or breaking.
|Wear: This type of prosthesis can wear down the tooth on the opposing dental arch.
|Minimal prepping: Zirconia's resistance allows the crown to be thinner than its counterparts. Therefore, the dentist doesn't have to remove as many tooth tissues
Type 4: Gold
As the name suggests, these crowns are made of gold. However, it is not solid gold but an alloy containing other metals, such as chromium and palladium. This way, they are not as expensive to manufacture while maintaining their properties.
Gold crowns are highly resistant and durable. Nonetheless, their unnatural color is its most evident flaw. As a result, these crowns are uncommon nowadays.
Pros and Cons of Gold Crowns
|Resistance: Gold crowns are incredibly resistant to wear. They don't tend to break or chip.
|Aesthetic: These crowns are gold-colored. This gives them an unnatural and unpleasant color.
|Durability: This type of dental crown is highly durable and can stay in the mouth for several years without needing a replacement.
|Biocompatibility: Gold alloys can cause allergic reactions and swelling.
|Minimal prepping: The teeth receiving these crowns do not require extensive tooth prepping since the alloy is resistant and there is no porcelain layer.
Covering the crown with porcelain can solve the color issue. These crowns behave similarly to PFM crowns. However, it can cause allergies as the frame is still made from gold. Furthermore, it requires more tooth prepping than a regular gold crown.
Besides, there are crowns made entirely of an alloy of other metallic elements, excluding gold. These metal crowns share similar characteristics but are gray-colored.
Type 5: Emax
Emax is the common name given to crowns made of a material named Lithium Disilicate. This is another type of ceramic crown free of metal. However, it possesses outstanding aesthetic properties.
Emax crowns are the most common crown we recommend here at Blyss Dental in Del Mar. It’s very versatile both for front and back teeth.
Pros and Cons of Emax Crowns
|Aesthetic: This type of dental crown has great aesthetic properties and looks highly similar to a natural tooth due to its translucency features.
|Cost: The price of Emax crown is probably its most significant disadvantage. These crowns tend to be expensive due to the optical properties of the material.
|Resistance: Another remarkable characteristic of Emax crowns is their physical properties. These dental crowns are both resistant and light. However, it is not as resistant as a Zirconia crown.
|Minimal prepping: Same as with the other metal-free crowns, Emax crowns require minimal prepping.
Choosing The Right Type Of Dental Crown According To Your Case
Learning the fundamental aspects of each type of dental crown is only the first step. Each case is different and has unique characteristics. Therefore, it is vital to match the damaged tooth with a dental crown capable of fulfilling its needs.
Therefore, I have prepared a list of common scenarios that could help you figure out which type of tooth crown is your best option.
Case 1: Which type of dental crown looks the best?
Emax crowns offer the best aesthetic properties. They are slightly translucent and reflect light similarly to the enamel. Therefore, the results often look exactly like a natural tooth.
Nonetheless, it is also possible to achieve outstanding results with other ceramic crowns.
Zirconia crowns fall behind in second place. While they also reflect light similarly to enamel, their tones are more opaque. However, placing a thin layer of porcelain on top of the Zirconia has made it possible to increase the aesthetic properties of the crown considerably.
If you want to make your decision focusing entirely on looks, then Emax crowns are your best option.
Case 2: Which crown is the most durable?
Gold crowns are the most durable type of dental crowns. This sturdy alloy can withstand all the forces in the mouth for prolonged periods easily. Therefore, they don’t tend to break, fracture, or chip unless they receive a lot of unusual stress.
These tooth crowns are highly durable and can last several years in the mouth. However, since they are the least aesthetic option, you might want to choose the second most durable alternative, PFM.
PFM crowns are admiringly durable due to the metallic frame. This allows them to withstand biting forces perfectly while offering the porcelain excellent aesthetic properties.
Due to this perfect balance between resistance, durability, and look, PFM crowns have been the crown of choice for many years.
However, most people don’t want any metal in their mouths. Zirconia crowns are the way to go for both durability, aesthetics, and biocompatibility. Monolithic Zirconia is the strongest version of Zirconia crowns. Monolithic means that the crown was made from a solid piece of Zirconia.
Nevertheless, the type of material used for the crown is not the only thing that determines its durability. The tooth location and the care given by the patient play an essential role in its durability. If you chew hard things such as ice or bones, your crown could fracture regardless of the material they are made of.
Case 3: Which type of dental crown is best for front teeth?
Front teeth are the most noticeable ones in the smile. Therefore, the best type of dental crown for front teeth is usually the one with better optical properties. For this reason, Emax crowns are the best option.
A patient once told me he was unsure if Emax was worth the price and wanted to know if going for a more affordable alternative could be as good. First, I explained all the optical benefits. Then, since this patient was in the fashion world as a model, I highly encouraged him to go for the Emax.
After convincing him and cementing the crowns, he couldn’t believe the results. Not only did it surpass his expectations, but it also improved his career as a model.
Another benefit of using Emax for the front teeth is the lack of metallic elements that could stain the gum line.
Case 4: Zirconia vs ceramic crowns
Both alternatives offer many benefits and are highly similar. However, there are a few key differences between them.
Zirconia crowns are more resistant and can withstand heavier forces. For this reason, they are often recommended for posterior (back) teeth, such as the molars and bicuspids or premolars.
Meanwhile, ceramic crowns’ properties are the opposite. These crowns excel at optical qualities and aesthetics but are not as resistant as Zirconia crowns.
Moreover, they are usually not the best choice for a person with a strong bite. But, they make up for this lesser resistance with higher aesthetics.
Long story short, there is no better version between Zirconia and ceramic crowns. They both excel at different properties, and the right choice should be made considering the case needs.
Case 5: Which one is the cheapest type of dental crown?
PFM crowns are the most affordable option among all the types of dental crowns. The reason is that high-quality ceramics are more expensive than metallic alloys.
Although PFM crowns contain porcelain, a large portion of the crown is made of metal. Therefore, this porcelain layer is not enough to drastically increase the cost of the crown.
It is essential to comprehend that cheap is not a synonym for low quality. These types of dental crowns are perfectly capable of delivering outstanding results.
Case 6: What crown is best for molar teeth?
The patient’s needs should define the best type of tooth crown for molars.
Generally speaking, PFM crowns are usually the best option since they have a great balance between looks, resistance, and cost. This is the best alternative for patients who want long-lasting restoration with good aesthetic properties.
However, patients looking for a crown for their molars with superior aesthetics should opt for Zirconia crowns. These crowns offer excellent optical properties while still withstanding considerable biting forces.
Case 7: Which crown is best if you are young?
Social life and school or job play an essential role in most young people’s lives. Therefore, the best crowns for them are metal-free crowns.
These crowns can blend perfectly with the other teeth in the smile to hide the fact that they are not natural. This allows them to enjoy life without worrying about what other people might think about their teeth.
Furthermore, the minimally invasive prepping for these crowns helps preserve as much tooth tissue as possible.
Therefore, the best option for young people in most cases is Emax crowns for the frontal teeth and Zirconia crowns for the posterior ones.
Nonetheless, children can also need tooth crowns. In these cases, crowns made entirely of metal are the best solution. This is because it can be more challenging for children to have the specialized care ceramics require. Meanwhile, metallic crowns can withstand the children’s lifestyle until they are mature enough to have ceramic crowns.
Case 8: Which crown is best if you have a strong bite?
A strong bite can easily break and chip different dental materials. Therefore, the best crown I recommend for a strong bite is a solid zirconia crown. These types of dental crowns are sturdy enough to withstand the heavier forces in the mouth without wearing or breaking.
The second-best alternative is PFM. The metallic frame makes the crown strong enough to withstand the strong bite. However, in severe cases, it might break or chip the porcelain layer.
There are many dental crowns, each made of different materials and with unique features. Therefore, it is essential to understand the case characteristics to select the best material for the dental crown.
While PFM crowns can be considered the standard type or crown, other alternatives have gained much popularity. New materials like Zirconia and Emax are among these modern alternatives. Nowadays, their outstanding optic properties make them look exactly like a natural tooth.
If you are looking for a cosmetic or family dentist in Del Mar to enhance your smile, contact us now, and we’ll help you choose the best type of dental crown for you.
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