The world of dental materials has come a long way from the days of George Washington's wooden teeth. Today, a wide variety of advanced materials find their place in therapeutic dentistry, from what dentists use to create fillings to what they rely on to develop durable and good-looking crowns.
When a patient has a tooth that has suffered severe damage or decay, strengthening the tooth and restoring the patient's smile may call for the use of a dental crown, sometimes also referred to as a "cap." If you've heard from a dentist recently that you may need to consider a crown, you might have some questions. What are they, and what goes into making them? Let's explore the answers and look at what you need to know about what's inside a crown.
What is a Dental Crown?
Simply put, a dental crown is a restorative dental application that fits directly over one of your natural teeth. When the natural tooth has suffered too much damage, a dentist will carefully reshape the tooth to create a space for the crown to be put over it. The dentist then has a dental laboratory create a crown that resembles the tooth in its normal, undamaged state. Using a durable and strong dental cement, the dentist adheres the crown to the tooth site providing a protective layer, a better visual appearance, and a tooth capable of handling the rigors of chewing food.
The Different Materials Crowns Can Use
As you can imagine, crowns must be durable enough to withstand the conditions present in the human mouth. So what materials go into making a crown that can handle the strong forces of our jaws? Today, there are many different types of materials at our disposal to give patients the most reliable outcomes and although your dentist can give you her recommendation of the most ideal material, it’s important for you to be able to make an educated decision as well. Below are some of the most common materials chosen today and the pros and cons of each:
Gold. One of the most classic and historically used crown materials that many dentists still consider the “Gold Standard.” It is the material that most closely resembles natural tooth structure properties so it is the least abrasive when grinding against a natural tooth and anecdotally the longest-lasting material. However, due to poor esthetics, it is often used on the teeth in the back of the mouth and so that it’s not easily visible when you smile. However, new trends are always popping up so we may start seeing gold crowns on the front teeth as well.
Ceramic. When patients want the most natural-looking crown with color matching that is very close to their remaining teeth, ceramic is often the go-to choice. Within the ceramic category, there are a number of different materials that have different strengths and esthetic options. The most popular today are zirconia and lithium disilicate, the strongest and most esthetics materials, respectively. Ceramic crowns have quickly come to replace gold and porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns as the most commonly used today due to their strength and esthetics. Yet, they are more technique sensitive to make and to cement so it’s important that your dentist works with a reputable laboratory for more superior results.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal. Combining the benefits of metal crowns such as gold with the natural coloration of porcelain, fusion materials offer excellent durability and esthetics. These crowns were the most popular choice a decade ago, but are now being pushed aside for ceramic materials. Due to the fact that two different materials—porcelain and metal—are glued together, the porcelain can chip off the surface with time exposing the metal underneath. Additionally, porcelain is very abrasive to natural teeth when it chips so it can cause the tooth opposing the crown to wear quicker.
How does a dentist decide which material to use when you need a crown? The answer will depend on the location of the tooth within your mouth, how much damage or decay it has, and what the future prognosis of the tooth site is. Working with you to assess your needs, the dentist can show you several options so that you can ultimately decide together on the best way to proceed to restore your smile and bite.
Think You May Need a Crown? Learn More Today
When teeth can no longer stand up to the repetitive forces of chewing or when damage has become too severe, crowning the tooth can help restore confidence in your smile while offering a comfortable and long-term solution. With Dr. Nargiz I. Zadeh at the Tarzana dental office, patients can explore their options in a stress-free setting while tapping into some of the leading and cutting-edge solutions for dental crown materials. Schedule a consultation with our friendly office today to learn more about your options.
A Testimonial From Tal, Dr. Nargiz I. Zadeh's Patient in Tarzana, CA
I’m a new patient here. Everyone at this office is such a pleasure to be around! They always make my dentist visits as easy and smooth as possible. They treat every patient with such care and are very helpful and compassionate. I really appreciate their great attitudes and smiles every time i walk into the office. Huge thanks to the whole team!