Dental crowns at Edgerton and Glenn DDS can serve many functions. Many patients may undergo dental crown treatment for aesthetic purposes, in which the crown serves as a “cap” that covers a visibly damaged or discolored tooth. Some dental crowns are placed for medical purposes, to protect a vulnerable tooth; in these cases, patients tend to prefer an aesthetically appealing crown in cases where the tooth is located at or near the front of the mouth. For teeth that are generally less visible, a dental crown serves an entirely functional purpose, reinforcing and protecting an otherwise damaged or vulnerable living tooth, replacing a missing tooth, maintaining the alignment of the teeth, and providing a mechanically sound surface for chewing. Because of this broad range of uses, crowns can be made of a variety of materials, each of which has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Some materials, like gold, list strength and durability among their attributes. Materials like porcelain, on the other hand, are translucent and can be colored to match the hue of a person’s natural teeth. As you can imagine, however, a porcelain tooth would not be as durable or strong as a metal tooth. Because dental crowns are crafted by specialized technicians, in dental laboratories, you will be given a temporary crown to wear while your permanent crown is being crafted. This temporary crown is designed to serve a mechanical and protective function and may not be designed with the same aesthetic purpose as your permanent crown.
There are four main materials used to make dental crowns: porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, gold alloys, and base metal alloys. Porcelain crowns are chosen most often to restore front teeth, because they can easily be crafted to blend in, in both color and luminescence, with your natural tooth color. Porcelain fused to metal creates a more durable tooth, and some people prefer this combination of materials for visible teeth; however, because there is metal beneath the porcelain, some aesthetic appeal is lost, as the crowns cannot be made as translucent as those that are made only of porcelain. Gold alloys, which are a mix of copper, gold, and other metals, provide a strong bond with the natural tooth and are extremely durable, making them a good choice for teeth that undergo a lot of everyday wear and tear. Base metal alloy crowns are made of base metals that resist corrosion, also creating a durable crown. Base metal alloys are used more frequently when a patient’s natural tooth cannot be effectively reduced, through filing, before the crown is placed.
In addition to strength and appearance, dentists must factor in the ability of the crown to effectively bond with the natural tooth beneath, creating a strong seal and preventing any bacteria from seeping beneath the crown. The sealing strength of porcelain crowns depends largely on the specific type of porcelain that is used to build the crown, as well as on the health of the underlying tooth. Porcelain fused to metal, gold alloys, and base metal alloys all provide very good seals and are unlikely to allow leakage. Gold alloy and base metal alloy crowns provide the greatest durability, while porcelain crowns are the least durable, which may pose a problem if you grind or clench your teeth. Porcelain fused to metal offers more durability than porcelain alone. Porcelain and porcelain fused to metal may cause friction on opposing teeth, aggravating these teeth, while gold and base metal alloys are unlikely to cause any friction on opposing teeth.
The best way to ensure that your crown lasts a long time is to properly maintain the health of your mouth overall. While crowns may sometimes loosen or fall out, they can last a lifetime when maintained properly, with effective oral health habits. Brushing twice a day, with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, as well as flossing daily, will help maintain your oral health and the life of your dental crowns. Scheduling regular dental checkups and professional cleanings is also an important part of maintaining your oral health, and would ideally prevent you from needing any dental crowns at all.
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