Dental crowns (“tooth caps”) are one of dentistry’s most versatile restorations. Beyond just offering a way to rebuild and strengthen damaged or compromised teeth, they also provide a way by which a tooth’s overall appearance (color, shape and even apparent alignment) can be vastly improved.
While reading our pages, you’ll learn about the different types of crowns (ceramic, porcelain-fused-to-metal, and all-metal/gold) and when each of these types might make the best choice. We also describe the steps a dentist follows when they make a crown for a patient, as well as how much you can expect your crown to cost and how long it may possibly last.
We also cover issues such as alternative restorations, how crowns differ from porcelain veneers and common crown-related problems, including what to do if you have one come off.
A crown is a type of dental restoration that, when cemented into place, fully cups over that portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line. Since it encases the entire visible aspect of a tooth, a dental crown, in effect, becomes the tooth’s new outer surface.
In comparison, dental fillings are restorations that fill in or patch just a portion of a tooth. Other terms that are used to refer to crowns are “dental caps” and “tooth caps.”
It’s not too hard to envision how a dental crown might be used to restore, or even improve, a tooth’s shape. When a crown is cemented into place, it becomes, in essence, the tooth’s new outer shell.And although they must stay within certain guidelines, it’s easy to seen. how placing a crown gives a dentist great control in defining the overall shape of a tooth.
One consideration in the porcelain-fused-to-metal crown is that these crowns may tend to show the underlying metal or gold margin at the gum line as gums recede over time. Some patients opt for this type of crown, but replace the crown at a later date in order to maintain a higher esthetic benefit. Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns with an all porcelain collar can eliminate this vulnerability.
All-Ceramic crowns (Procera, Cercon, and IPS Empress System)
The predominant material choice for all-ceramic crowns today is either zirconia, or aluminous materials. They provide a metal-free esthetic option with a number of benefits. By eliminating the need for the supportive metal core, an esthetic all-ceramic crown can be created with a reduced thickness of material. This makes them a more favorable treatment choice in areas with limited space. Additionally, the elimination of the metal core allows for light transmission through the porcelain for better optical, life-like properties and a higher level of esthetics. All-ceramic materials continue to evolve in strength and durability, but caution should still be exercised for areas of the mouth requiring heavy function. Continuing research is exploring the significant vulnerabilities of the porcelain systems in such areas.
Although not as popular a treatment choice for esthetic reasons, gold crowns are still indicated in some instances. For example, patients with strong bites and those with parafunctional habits (such as grinding or clenching) might be better served with gold crown. The traditional restorative material can provide stronger support to the remaining healthy tooth structure. Gold crowns offer a level of durability that is appropriate for teeth located in the back of the mouth (such as the molars), where they will not be highly visible. Gold crowns tend to offer greater longevity and require less preparation than porcelain and porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. When chewing, gold tends to be less abrasive to the opposing tooth than porcelain. This helps to prevent wearing of the teeth.