How Dentists Choose the Perfect Dental Crown Material for Your Smile

Dental crowns are a popular and versatile type of dental restoration. They provide functional and cosmetic benefits and can be customized to perfectly match your natural teeth’s shape, size, and color. Dentists have been able to perfect the art of creating exceptionally realistic dental crowns, largely thanks to the variety of available dental crown materials.

Today, we’ll talk about when a crown is necessary, different dental crown materials available, and which options Dr. May typically recommends to his patients.

Why do people need dental crowns?

When a dental filling isn’t enough but a tooth is still salvageable, a dental crown is often the solution used to save the damaged tooth. Unlike a filling or inlay, which fills in space left from a cavity, a dental crown entirely covers a tooth in a protective shell. The dental crown will protect your tooth and continue feeling and functioning like a healthy, natural tooth.

In addition to covering damaged or broken teeth, you’ll also need a dental crown after root canal therapy. A tooth doesn’t necessarily need a root canal before a crown is placed, but if a root canal is necessary, a dental crown almost always follows.

Lastly, a dental crown can also be used for purely cosmetic purposes. If a tooth is very short, abnormally shaped, badly chipped, or has permanent discoloration, a dental crown can cover the problem and give your tooth a perfect new appearance.

What types of dental crown materials are available?

The average person views dental crowns in two forms – tooth-colored or old-school metal. There are actually a dizzying number of different materials and brands of dental crowns out there. Thankfully, most dentists focus on two or three main options for patients, so patients can more easily choose a material for their smile.

Here are five very popular dental crown materials you may see in the average general or family dental practice. Remember that all dental crown materials are ADA-approved and have their own unique advantages and qualities.

1. Porcelain or Ceramic

Porcelain crowns are made of a durable ceramic material specially designed for dental restorations. The porcelain material can be colored and shaped by a skilled dental lab technician with relative ease, making them an attractive option for crowning front teeth.

Porcelain or all-ceramic crowns provide excellent value, often lasting 10 to 15 years or more, with proper care. They’re more expensive than composites and do require a lab to mill, but they remain an all-around great choice for a beautiful dental crown.

2. Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal

Also known as PFTM or PFM crown, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are a unique option that’s been available for several decades. These crowns are a hybrid of porcelain and metal alloy crowns. The metal alloy forms the “skeleton” of the crown and is bonded to the tooth. The outside shell of the crown is made of porcelain to allow for a much more aesthetically-pleasing finish.

PFTM crowns offer more durability than all ceramic or porcelain, which made them popular for crowning molars. However, a consideration to be aware of is the propensity for PFTM crowns to develop a visible gray band on the tooth near the gums. For this reason, many dentists now only use PFTM crowns for molars or non-visible teeth, or simply opt for an alternative dental crown material entirely.

3. Metal Alloys

Metal alloys are a broad category of dental crown materials, including stainless steel and gold crowns. Despite their obvious disadvantage of being very unnatural looking, full metal crowns have several advantages. They’re exceptionally strong and durable, yet they’re gentle to neighboring teeth (i.e., they won’t wear down opposing tooth enamel). Chipping or cracking is quite rare, and it isn’t uncommon for a metal crown to last 20 years, or even more.

Modern dentistry favors tooth-colored restorations, but stainless steel crowns are still fairly commonly used for children. As far as adults go, a metal alloy crown can be specially requested if you desire an ultra-strong, long-lasting crown on a rear tooth.

4. Composite Resin

Composite resin dental crowns are an affordable solution that has become quite popular thanks to CEREC technology. CEREC same-day crowns are milled in a dentist’s office during the same visit as your treatment and tooth prep appointment. Rather than waiting two weeks for a permanent crown, it’s possible to leave your dentist with a CEREC composite crown within a short amount of time.

The two major benefits of a composite crown are its affordability and the option for same-day treatment. They typically don’t last as long as other materials, but this may be perfectly reasonable for someone who wants an attractive crown without the wait.

5. Zirconia or Porcelain-Fused-to-Zirconia

Zirconia is a newer dental crown material when compared to porcelain or metal alloys. The material itself is a white crystalline oxide whose natural properties make it inherently similar to the opacity of tooth enamel. Many cosmetic dentists favor all-zirconia and zirconia with a porcelain overlay due to their beauty and durability.

Zirconia crowns are considered more durable and less likely to crack than porcelain crowns, making them comparable in strength to metal alloys. They can also be a good choice for someone with bruxism for this reason. Zirconia isn’t as common as porcelain, and that does mean zirconia crowns are on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to expense.

Which dental crown materials does Dr. May use with patients?

Dr. May focuses on porcelain-type crowns for adult patients and stainless steel crowns for children. He’s decided on these choices due to the cost vs. value and their benefits to the average patient who wants to maintain optimal oral health.

If there are special circumstances or you’re interested in a different dental crown material, you’re encouraged to discuss this with Dr. May.

We can revive your smile. Book your consultation today.

Metro East Dental Care is your destination for beautiful and durable dental crowns in Granite City, IL. To answer your dental crown questions or book a consultation, call our office or request a visit online to schedule a time to see Dr. May.