A dental crown is a specially shaped cap for your tooth that’s applied for a variety of reasons ranging from protecting a weak tooth, restoring a broken tooth, or even just for cosmetic purposes. Dental crowns come in several varieties and each variety fills a different requirement niche. Choosing which type of dental crown is suitable for you primarily depends on the location of the crown, the strength, the durability, the desired cosmetic appearance of the crown, and finally your available budget. This article will cover and introduce the three main types of dental crown; ceramic, gold alloys, and porcelain-fused-to-metal. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses of which we will elaborate below.
Ceramic dental crowns are made from a material called Ivoclar Porcelain System (IPS) and contain no metal. Ceramic dental crowns are pricey, but their primary advantage to other crowns are in their appearance. Ceramic dental crowns have a natural appearance, realistic texture and translucency, and they blend almost seamlessly with original teeth. As a result, ceramic dental crowns are typically used if the tooth being crowned is in a visible location, such as the front row. Additionally, ceramic dental crowns provide a decreased sensitivity to temperature changes and as a result are more comfortable for patients that frequently ingest hot or cold beverages. Ceramic crowns also show an “outstanding clinical performance” according to Oceanic Dental Lab. Unfortunately, ceramic does have some downsides. Primarily, ceramic is not the most durable type of dental crown and will typically need to be replaced within a patient’s lifetime. Patients should avoid particularly hard foods like ice or brittle candy and should expect to need to replace or refresh their dental crown in between 5 to 15 years. Additionally, ceramic dental crowns are actually harder than natural enamel and when patients chew or grind their teeth, ceramic crowns can potentially damage natural teeth around them.
Typically used when appearance is not a key factor in choosing a dental crown, gold alloy dental crowns are extremely reliable. Gold crowns were most commonly used before the development of ceramic crowns. This is a result of the durability and inert properties of gold itself. The durability of gold alloy dental crowns is seen in that gold alloy dental crowns are known to last for decades and are unlikely to need to be changed or refreshed in your lifetime. As for the inert properties, gold as a metal is extremely unreactive and gold is less likely to cause irritation to the delicate tissues in the mouth. A final positive for gold alloy dental crowns is their thinness. Gold dental crowns are thinner than other types of crowns and less of the tooth needs to be filed away to make room for the crown on top of the tooth.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crowns seek to combine the stability and durability of gold alloy dental crowns and the aesthetic appeal of ceramic dental crowns. The result is a dental crown whose lower and inner layers are typically made of a gold alloy with porcelain laid on top as the final layer. Porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crowns are as durable as gold alloy crowns, but their stark appearance is tempered by the final porcelain layer. However, they do not blend in as easily with natural teeth as ceramic dental crowns. Additionally, if the gum line recedes over the years, then the metallic layer will become visible. Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns also share the same problem as ceramic dental crowns in that porcelain is actually harder than natural enamel and when patients chew or grind their teeth, porcelain can potentially damage natural teeth around it.
Dental Crown Tattoos
As a fun aside, for the aesthetically minded patient, dental crown tattoos are a fun way to accessorize your teeth and really stand out! Done exclusively on dental crowns that have porcelain as an outer layer, dental crown tattoos are ordered in advance and then sent to the dental office to be put in. The tattoos should last many years, as long as patients do not somehow rub the tattoo off with an abrasive material. If you’re interested in spicing up your mouth with a dental crown tattoo, please keep in mind that simple designs are the most effective. Any design with intricate detail can get easily muddled due to the small size of the canvas that is available. Dental crown tattoos are growing in popularity as well!
Ultimately when choosing your dental crown, we recommend you take into factor the position of the crown in your mouth first. This factor is key as it can immediately rule out gold or ceramic dental crowns. Then consider whether you are prepared to possibly replace or refresh the crown within your lifetime. We believe that simply asking these two questions should help to narrow your decisions down. Finally, if you are looking for something special, consider getting a dental crown tattoo to really stand out from the crowd!