Dental crowns are thin shields of porcelain or zirconia that fit over cracked or broken teeth in order to rebuild them to its original form. In the past, metal or gold was often used but in today's age of social media, tooth-coloured materials which are strong, yet aesthetic is the popular choice. They are also known as “caps” and besides protecting teeth that are weak, can also be used to change the shape, size and colour of teeth for cosmetic dental purposes.
What Is a Dental Crown Used For?
Dental crowns are used for both functional and aesthetic reasons, for example:
to build-up a chipped, cracked or worn tooth
to protect weak teeth (teeth with large fillings or after root canal treatment)
as part of support for a dental bridge to replace missing teeth
for cosmetic dental purposes, like covering misshapen or discoloured teeth
What are the Different Types of Dental Crowns?
A dental crown can be made from different materials depending on function and budget. Traditional crowns using metal alone, or in combination with porcelain (porcelain-fused-to-metal) generally cost less. While it is still commonly used, the trend is towards using tooth-coloured materials such as full-ceramic (porcelain) or zirconia that look more natural. In addition, through using 3D computer technology to design and make these new generation crowns, the waiting time is far less as they can now be made within a day or two, and in some cases within 3 hours.
Metal crowns are strong and long-lasting but because of their colour, their use is usually restricted to the back teeth, and when the patient has very strong bite forces.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns provide a fair colour-match as tooth-coloured porcelain is layered over metal and then fused together in a laboratory. They have a proven track record and in general last for between 7-10 years. However, there is a tendency for some of the porcelain to chip off, or for the margin of the crown to stain over time. They are a suitable long-term moderately priced solution.
All Porcelain and Zirconia Crowns provide the most aesthetic and natural looking solution. Recent advances in technology have increased the strength of porcelain significantly and they can now be used even for back teeth. A popular option is E.max made of Lithium Disilicate by Ivoclar. An even stronger option is Zirconia which is suitable even for patients who grind their teeth. The recent introduction of multi-layer Zirconia has made the cosmetics comparable to all-porcelain crowns.