The tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over the tooth to improve its appearance, strength, size, and shape is known as a dental crown. Dental crowns are cemented into place and will encase the visible portion of the tooth fully.
When is a dental crown needed?
Dental crowns may be recommended in the following scenarios:
- Protecting a weak tooth from breaking
- Holding together parts of a tooth that’s cracked
- Restoring and supporting a tooth with a large filling
- Holding a dental bridge in place
- Covering a dental implant
- Cosmetic modification
- Covering a severely discoloured or misshapen tooth
A dental crown may also be used on primary or baby teeth in the following cases:
- Saving a tooth that’s severely damaged by decay
- Protecting the tooth that’s at high risk for tooth decay
What are the different types of dental crowns?
Permanent dental crowns can be all resin, porcelain-fused-to-metal, stainless steel, all metal (i.e. gold or another alloy), or all ceramic.
Unlike metallic dental crowns, porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crowns can be colour matched to mimic the colour of the adjacent teeth. However, compared to resin or metal crowns, more wearing to the opposing teeth can occur with this type of dental crown. There is also a tendency for the porcelain portion of the dental crown to break off or get chipped.
Just like all-ceramic crowns, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns look identical to real teeth. However, in some cases, the metal underlying the porcelain can appear as a dark line. This is especially visible when the gum recedes. Porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crowns can be great choices for back or front teeth (as well as long bridges) where metal can provide stability.
Stainless steel dental crowns are prefabricated and are used on permanent teeth as a temporary measure. Primarily, this type of dental crown protects the filling or tooth while a permanent crown is still being made.
For children, a stainless steel dental crown is often used to fit over the primary tooth. It is used to cover the entire tooth and prevent it from further decay. When the primary tooth comes out, the crown will also come out with it.
Typically, stainless steel crowns are used for children’s teeth since they won’t require numerous dental visits. They are also more affordable than custom-made crowns.
Metals that are used in crowns include alloys that contain a high dose of platinum or gold or base-metal alloys like nickel-chromium or cobalt-chromium. This type of dental crown are also considered strong enough to withstand chewing and biting forces. In addition, they are also known to last longer compared to others.
While metal crowns rarely break or chip and are known to be highly durable, it has one main drawback—its metallic colour. They are however deemed wonderful alternatives for molars that are out-of-sight.
All-porcelain or all-ceramic
Aside from being a better natural colour match compared to other crown types, all-porcelain or all-ceramic are also considered a good option for patients with metal allergies. All-ceramic crowns can be used for both the back and the front teeth.
All-resin dental crowns are considered more affordable compared to other crown types. However, they are also more prone to fractures and can easily wear down over time.