Dental crowns are used for a variety of reasons. A crown can hold together a badly damaged or decayed tooth, restore a broken tooth, hide a large filling, or even cover a tooth that is unattractive. Crowns are a durable and long lasting alternative to extraction and replacement, but like any dental procedure, dental crowns have their own pros and cons.
Preserving Tooth Structure
When compared to other solutions such as dental bridges, crowns preserve more of the healthy tooth structure. We will remove only the damaged sections of the tooth and place the crown over the remainder of the tooth. However, since crowns leave the nerve system intact, a dental crown may not resolve issues related to tooth sensitivity to heat, cold, or pressure.
A dental crown serves as a protective cap for the tooth, and the prognosis is generally good. However, the tooth will never be as strong as an entirely healthy tooth. It is possible for bacteria to invade beneath the crown, causing future decay and additional dental work. The best way to guard against this possibility is through scrupulous oral hygiene.
Types of Dental Crowns
Dental crowns come in four basic types, each with its own pros and cons:
Ceramic Crowns: The most aesthetic solution, ceramic crowns are ideal for the front teeth. They can be color-matched to the surrounding teeth, creating a highly natural appearance. Yet they are durable and strong enough to be used anywhere in the mouth.
Porcelain Fused to Metal: Slightly stronger than ceramic crowns due to a metal understructure, porcelain fused to metal crowns are an excellent choice for teeth that take the forces of biting and chewing. They can be color-matched to the adjacent teeth, but they are not ideal for front teeth, as the metal frame can show through as a dark line at the gums.
Gold Alloys: Gold alloy crowns are the least damaging to the surrounding teeth. Extremely tough and nearly impervious to chipping or breaking, gold alloys are a smart choice for back teeth in patients who grind or clench their teeth. They are not generally used on front teeth due to their aesthetics, although some people like the unique look.
Base Metal Alloys: Badly damaged back teeth may benefit from crowns made of strong, corrosion resistant base metal alloys. Due to their unattractive look, though, they are not usually selected for teeth that show.
Dental crowns are a highly useful tool, but they are not right for every situation. If your teeth are badly failing, you might prefer to have them extracted and replaced. If you have multiple damaged or decayed teeth, you might choose a dental bridge instead, which is less expensive than individual crowns. We will go through your options with you and help you choose the solution that best meets your needs, goals, and budget.