Which Dental Crowns Are Right for You? A Complete Guide

What should your dental crowns be made out of

Everything You Need to Know About Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are available in a range of materials that are designed to mimic the look and function of your natural teeth. If your dentist recommends one, you might wonder what your options are. Which materials will hold up the longest? Which looks the most authentic? Are there any that outperform the rest?

Today, we’re answering all of these questions and more to help you make an informed decision as you take this next step.

What are dental crowns?

A dental crown is a custom-designed tooth replacement made to fit on top of your natural teeth, replacing the part of your tooth that was broken or decayed. Durable, strong, and long-lasting, crowns can extend the life of a vulnerable tooth. They can also enhance the form and function of your smile!

Once your dentist has prepared your tooth (or teeth) to receive a crown, they will put a custom-milled crown into position. The crown will appear natural and lifelike. It can do wonders to relieve tooth pain and rejuvenate your oral health and quality of life.

At our office, Dr. Sexton makes dental crowns out of porcelain. While this is a tough and beautiful material, it isn’t the only option. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common substances used to create dental crowns and how they stack up against one another.

Full Porcelain Crown

Porcelain is often regarded as one of the most attractive and lifelike dental crown materials. Not only does it beautifully mimic your real teeth, but it’s also relatively inefficient at conducting heat or cold, which reduces initial sensitivity. At the same time, there are no metal sensitivities to worry about, which makes them ideal for almost every patient.

If you want crowns that look seamless and function well, then porcelain is a great material to consider. The only drawback is full porcelain can lack the translucency your real teeth have, which could make them slightly noticeable in your mouth.

Full Zirconia Crown

Zirconia is a white crystalline oxide derived from the metal zirconium. You may already be familiar with cubic zirconia, which is the cubic form of this material. In this state, zirconia simulates its trademark, diamond-like shape.

In the dental industry, zirconia has been studied for years. Dentists frequently use it to produce dental restorations, including crowns. Zirconia crowns are the most aesthetically like teeth. Often, dentists fuse zirconia with another material, such as gold or porcelain. Though it’s strong on its own, it’s cosmetically more attractive when this fusion occurs. Plus, when zirconia is fused to gold, it’s far less likely to fracture.

Porcelain Zirconia Crown

Want to achieve all of the aforementioned benefits of porcelain but with a more translucent finish? If so, then a porcelain zirconia crown is ideal. This material is formed when porcelain and zirconia undergo a bonding process, and its translucent beauty is aesthetically most like a healthy natural tooth. The result is a blend of materials that is beautiful, tough, and designed to last. Plus, it’s also stronger and less likely to fracture than porcelain fused to another type of material, such as gold.

Keep in mind that zirconia is derived from metal, though only rarely is it reactive in the mouth. Still, patients considering this material should conduct allergy testing if this is a source of concern.

Porcelain Gold Crown

Porcelain gold crowns combine the durability of gold with the cosmetic perks of porcelain. The most visible material of the crown is made of porcelain, which is fused and layered on top of a gold alloy base. This way, even if the top layers crack or fracture, the structure will still remain in place, thanks to the gold base.

While this approach sounds like a solid one, porcelain gold crowns are losing popularity. There are a few reasons why this could be the case, including:

  • The gold base automatically makes the crown more opaque, which can look unnatural compared to pure porcelain or porcelain zirconia crowns.
  • The gold base creates a thin line around the base of the crowned tooth, which could be noticeable for crowns placed on front teeth.
  • Metal alloy bases could be risky or dangerous for anyone with a metal allergy.

If you already have other dental crowns made of a porcelain gold alloy, then you can stick with these to make sure everything matches. Otherwise, it’s best to look for a different type of material to use.

Full Gold Crown

Traditionally, many dental crowns were made of gold. This makes sense, as gold is one of the least reactive metals and is extremely durable. Its physical composition makes it gentle on the teeth opposing your crown, though it’s strong enough to withstand even habitual teeth grinding habits.

On its own, however, gold is simply too soft to be used in a patient’s mouth. For this reason, these crowns are usually made with a blend of precious metal alloys, such as:

  • Platinum
  • Palladium
  • Silver

While these materials work well together, gold crowns are quickly giving way to materials that are more natural in appearance. Understandably, they aren’t used nearly as frequently for teeth that are highly visible, reserved instead for back teeth where cosmetic concerns aren’t as high. In addition to cosmetics, another concern is that some patients could suffer from a metal allergy, which could cause them to negatively react to a metal crown. Moreover, gold is known to conduct hot and cold temperatures quickly, which could cause sensitivity and tooth pain in the first few weeks following placement.

Learn more about dental crowns.

Dental crowns can help you maintain your smile without losing a damaged tooth to decay. If you’re preparing to undergo this type of restorative dentistry treatment, it’s smart to know your options. Between porcelain, zirconia, and several blends, there is no shortage of materials to choose from. While there isn’t a right or wrong answer, it’s best to consider the factors that are the most important to you.

As your trusted local Wayland family dentistry office, our team is happy to explain every step of the process from start to finish. Feel free to contact us today to learn more.