Did you know: Dental crowns have been used for thousands of years! There is evidence that
ancient Etruscans used rudimentary gold tooth coverings to restore the shape and function of teeth - which is effectively still the purpose of dental crowns today. Crowns have evolved quite a bit since ancient times however, from placement and crafting techniques and technologies, to dental crown materials.
How Does a Crown Restore A Tooth?
Today, a dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that is custom made to match your teeth and bite. The tooth must first be reshaped to accommodate the permanent crown, which typically takes 1-2 weeks to craft, during which period the patient wears a temporary crown to protect the tooth. Some dental offices can mill permanent crowns in-house for same day placement. After the permanent crown has been crafted, it is cemented onto the prepared tooth and carefully checked for proper placement, fit and bite.
The result is a long-lasting and fully functional tooth restoration! Crowns are an excellent choice of restoration for many types of dental issues, such as:
Strengthen and protect a decayed tooth, e.g. one with decay too large to be repaired by a filling
Restore a badly worn down, cracked or broken tooth
Complete a larger dental restoration, such as a dental implant or bridge
Improve or restore the shape, size or color of a tooth -- If you desire a change in your tooth restoration’s appearance, be sure to discuss with your dentist what you want your permanent crown to look like!
Dental Crown Materials
Crowns can be made of many different materials, chiefly: ceramic (porcelain-based), porcelain fused to metal, gold alloys, and base metal alloys. There are strengths and disadvantages to each type of material.
Base Metal Alloys are very strong and highly resistant to corrosion and wear, as well as gentle to opposing teeth. A base metal alloy crown typically requires the least amount of tooth structure to be removed. Some find the silver appearance of this crown material unsightly, particularly in highly visible teeth, and prefer a natural looking option.
Gold Alloys adhere strongly to the tooth structure and are highly biocompatible with gum tissue. It is resistant to wear and fracture and does not wear away opposing teeth. Prized since ancient times as a symbol of wealth, gold crowns have waned in popularity in recent decades in favor of more natural looking, tooth-colored options.
Porcelain Fused to Metal (PFM) crowns provide a good strength and seal to the teeth, preventing leakage and decrease recurring tooth decay. A moderate amount of tooth structure must be removed, but PFM crowns offer a stronger restoration than porcelain alone and are quite durable, strong, and have a bit smaller a price tag than all porcelain crowns. However over time, dark grey or black lines can begin to appear at the gum line as the metal base begins to show through.
Ceramic is especially recommended for restoring front teeth due to its highly natural appearance. Porcelain crowns can be shade-matched exactly to the shade of your other teeth, and unless damaged are highly resistant to staining. More tooth structure often must be removed for porcelain crown restorations, and because the material is not as durable as the other options it is not recommended for teeth that sustain heavy biting and chewing.
Not sure what crown material is best for you? Feel free to call us at 206-324-1100 with any questions and we will be happy to help!
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