Crown me! Actually there are very few people that show up in our office actually asking for a crown. Well, that’s not entirely true. Because our fees are below average and we don’t nickel and dime our patients, we do get people that come to us to get crowns done because they were quoted higher fees elsewhere. Most, however, don’t really even know what a crown is.
Let’s start with that. A crown is a way for us to protect a tooth that has been severely damaged; teeth that have large fillings that weaken the tooth. Teeth that have had root canal treatment or teeth that just show significant wear or damage can benefit from crowns.
A crown is simply a new cover placed over the tooth, after the dentist has trimmed it. Because the crown covers the top and sides of the tooth, it protects the tooth from breaking further.
That’s the basics of crowns. What you need to know is that there are literally a dozen or more materials or ways crowns can be made. Few dentists discuss this with their patients. But you might want to have some say in the materials used in your crown, which ultimately will end up in your mouth, for years.
The absolute best material, in my opinion, is gold. It has a similar wear strength or tooth enamel, so it doesn’t cause increased wear of the teeth it chews against, which porcelain can. It can look nearly as good after 30 or more years as the day it was placed in the mouth. If gold crowns could be made tooth colored, I doubt that any dentist would choose any other material.
Since the vast majority of patients want tooth colored crowns, we use a crown with porcelain for most crowns.
Porcelain allows us to match the crown to your teeth. There are several different kinds or porcelain crowns, most of which I’ll discuss at another time. For now suffice it to say that porcelain, while strong, has to be bonded to some type of substructure, traditionally metal.
The metals used can be varied, from gold to more base metals. All provide a strong base by which to make the crown. Those who can’t tolerate nickel or other base metals should avoid the base metal style crowns. If you have no problem with the metals, they are perfectly functional crowns.
Front teeth where, cosmetics are at a premium, we typically use, where practical, a tooth colored base which provides a more natural looking final look.