Restoring and protecting your natural teeth with a dental crown.
Did you know that your second molars can exert between 247 and 292 pounds of force? Amazing, right? Even on a typical day, your molars chew with around 70 pounds per square inch of force! It really puts into perspective just how strong our natural teeth are. After all, they’re designed to withstand these pressures for a lifetime! Your teeth aren’t indestructible, however, so they can be damaged by injury or decay. When one of your teeth is severely damaged, a dental crown is often the best way to save it.
Crowns can relieve tooth pain, restore a tooth’s health and functionality, and protect it from future damage—so they need to be strong enough to withstand the same amount of force as your natural teeth! Advances in dental technology mean that your crown can be made from several different materials, which means you have more options than ever when you’re looking into getting a crown. This helps you find an option that matches your treatment needs and priorities, from the crown’s durability and longevity to its appearance and cost. But out of all the available materials on the market, which is best? To help you reach a decision, we’ve explained the benefits and drawbacks of the main types of dental crowns.
If you’re looking for strength, metal crowns are just about the strongest option out there, in addition to being one of the least expensive options. They’re made from a mix of metal alloys, resulting in a level of strength and durability that makes them unlikely to chip or break. They’re very visible in your mouth, so they certainly aren’t the most cosmetic option and are generally only placed on molars, but some people believe that their durability makes up for it. When they’re taken care of properly, metal crowns have the potential to last decades! Their strength also means that metal crowns can be made thinner than other types of crowns without losing strength, allowing your dentist to save more of your natural tooth structure than with other types of crowns—and it’s always best for your long-term oral health to save as much of your natural tooth as possible!
If you’re prone to clenching or grinding your teeth, however, a metal crown likely isn’t the best option for you because it can cause increased wear on your teeth. Additionally, metal expands and contracts in response to changing temperatures, so metal crowns do, too. This can cause tooth sensitivity, damage the teeth next to it, or cause your crown to crack or fail sooner than it otherwise would. Metal allergies or sensitivities aren’t uncommon, so it’s also wise to make sure you don’t have any before you get a metal dental crown. If you’re looking for an affordable, long-lasting dental crown on a back molar and don’t care whether or not it blends in with your natural teeth, however, a metal crown could be a good option for you.
We’ve been using gold to craft dental crowns for centuries, so its endurance as a treatment option today proves just how good of an option it can be! Gold is a metal and shares many similarities with metal crowns, but it has enough differences to warrant its own entry. On its own, gold is too soft to serve as a dental crown, so gold crowns are generally about 60% gold and 40% a mix of different alloys. This makes gold crowns just as strong and durable as metal crowns, allowing dentists to also make them thinner. Despite this strength, gold crowns are gentler on opposing teeth than metal crowns, so they’re a much better option for people who habitually clench or grind their teeth. Fewer people have reactions to metal allergies or sensitivities with gold crowns, but it’s still a possibility, so it’s wise to make sure this won’t be a problem before you place a gold crown in your mouth.
Just like metal crowns, gold crowns stand out in your mouth and are most often put on molars. They also share the tendency to expand and contract in response to changing temperatures. Gold crowns are more expensive than metal crowns, but they also have the potential to last several decades. These factors make them a solid option for people who like the sound of metal crowns but are worried about metal sensitivities, clench or grind their teeth regularly, or want an option that’s a little gentler on their remaining natural teeth.
If you’re looking for a crown that will blend in naturally with your smile, a porcelain crown is a good potential option. Porcelain crowns are custom-made for you to mirror the shade of your healthy teeth as well as to match the size and shape you prefer. This helps ensure that the crown blends in with your smile naturally—and that you love the results! When it comes to strength, porcelain crowns are a little odd. They’re harder than tooth enamel, so they can wear down or damage the teeth opposite them in your mouth, especially if you often clench or grind your teeth. But they’re also prone to being brittle, making them more vulnerable to chipping, cracking, or breaking.
This doesn’t mean that porcelain is fragile, though! It’s strong enough to stand up to daily wear and tear on front teeth and molars, but you should be careful of using it for difficult tasks, especially tasks that would risk damaging your natural teeth anyway! Thankfully, chips or cracks in the crown can sometimes be repaired, so damaging your crown doesn’t always mean you have to replace it. With proper care, porcelain crowns can last around 15 years or more. If you have metal allergies or want a crown that will blend in naturally with your smile, porcelain crowns are worth considering.
Ceramic crowns are very similar to porcelain crowns, but they’re generally considered to have a few improvements. The biggest of these improvements lies in its strength. While they’re still not as strong as metal crowns, ceramic crowns are stronger than porcelain crowns. They stand up well to daily wear and tear, but you still need to be careful about how you use your crown—just like you should be careful about how you use your natural teeth. Using your teeth as a tool could cause your natural teeth or your ceramic crown to chip, crack, or break, and ceramic crowns can’t be repaired like porcelain sometimes can.
When you take care of them well, ceramic crowns also last about 15 years or more. Just like porcelain crowns, ceramic crowns are custom-made for you and tinted to match your teeth to create a unique dental crown that blends in with your natural smile. They don’t contain any metal, so they’re safe for people with metal allergies or sensitivities. This makes them another good option if you’re looking for a metal-free option that produces natural results.
Is it possible to find a material that mixes the natural appearance of porcelain and ceramic crowns with the strength of metal crowns? Yes! Zirconia crowns are a new type of ceramic crown made from zirconium oxide, which is a naturally white metal similar to titanium. Just like porcelain and ceramic crowns, you can work with your dentist to choose its size, shape, and shade, creating a crown that looks natural. It doesn’t quite reach the same level of natural appearance as porcelain crowns do, but it’s easily realistic enough that no one will even know it’s there.
Additionally, since zirconia crowns are made of metal, they have the strength and durability of metal. This means that they can be made thin, preserving more of your natural tooth material. Since zirconia is a much newer material, we aren’t sure exactly how long zirconia crowns are likely to last, but they could last decades when cared for properly. Unlike other metal crowns, though, zirconia crowns are biocompatible—just like titanium. This means they rarely cause a reaction if you have a metal allergy or sensitivity, though you will still want to check to make sure, just in case. As a result, zirconia crowns are an amazing choice if you’re looking for a crown that balances a natural appearance with strength and durability.
Choosing the best dental crown for you.
At Millennium Dental, our top choice for the best type of crown material is zirconia. It’s a cutting-edge metal that manages to provide you with a balance of strength and beauty, making it great for use on any of your teeth. That said, everyone’s treatment needs and wants are different, so there’s no type of crown that’s objectively the best option for every person out there. We know this and want to work with you to choose the best crown for you. After all, our priority is that you leave our office with a healthy, happy smile!
Dental crowns are often an essential part of relieving toothache pain while saving and protecting a severely damaged tooth for decades to come. This is why it’s important to choose one that will meet your treatment needs and goals as well as create a smile that you love. If you’d like to learn more about your options, feel free to call and schedule an appointment at our Plano, TX, family dentistry office at any time.