Dental crowns are a common solution in dentistry, used to restore and protect damaged or decayed teeth. They serve as a "cap" that encases the entire tooth surface, restoring it to its original shape and size. Besides their restorative uses, crowns can also be used to enhance the appearance of discolored or misshapen teeth.
There are different types of crowns available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages:
Metal Crowns: Known for their exceptional durability, metal crowns can withstand biting and chewing forces well and last the longest in terms of wear down. However, their metallic color makes them more noticeable than porcelain or ceramic crowns, making them less suitable for front teeth.
Ceramic Crowns: These crowns provide the best natural color match compared to any other crown type and are a good choice for people with metal allergies. However, they are not as strong as metal crowns and can wear down opposing teeth a little more than metal or resin crowns.
Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Crowns: A hybrid between metal and porcelain crowns, these crowns offer a strong, aesthetic, and durable solution. They look most like normal teeth. However, sometimes the metal underlying the crown's porcelain can show through as a dark line, especially at the gum line.
Zirconia Crowns: Zirconia is becoming one of the most chosen materials for dental crowns. Its many advantages include extraordinary toughness, durability, and biocompatibility. However, the aesthetic aspect is where zirconia crowns are disadvantaged since they are slightly less natural-looking compared to all-ceramic crowns.
The procedure for placing a crown usually involves several steps and two dental visits. Initially, your dentist will numb the tooth and surrounding tissues and might need to build up the core of the tooth if the existing tooth structure is severely damaged or decayed. The tooth is then shaped to accept a crown, and an impression is taken to provide an exact mold for the crown.
While the permanent crown is being made (usually in a dental lab), a temporary crown is placed to protect the prepared tooth. At the second visit, the permanent crown is checked for fit and color before being cemented into place.
As far as maintenance is concerned, just like your natural teeth, crowns require regular brushing and flossing. With proper care, a good quality crown could last anywhere from 10 to 50 years.