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How To Choose Between The 9 Materials Available for Dental Crowns

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Dental crowns have become the go-to solution to address damaged teeth. These tooth-shaped caps restore your tooth’s look and function, improving your smile.

When dentists suggest patients need a dental crown, one question may pop into mind: what material works best for me?

This post will help you discover and understand the different dental crown materials — and see which would benefit you best:

Dental Crowns: Defined 

No matter how well you maintain your molars, they weaken and get damaged in the long run. And it can happen for various reasons, from tooth decay to injuries. Eventually, your teeth will lose their shape and size. But you can prevent these from happening by getting a dental crown. 

Dental crowns can restore your tooth’s shape, size, look, and strength. And you don’t need to worry about losing them as they get cemented into place, covering your tooth’s visible potion.

They make excellent alternatives when fillings don’t restore your damaged teeth. And these tooth-shaped caps don’t need intense care other than regular oral hygiene practices.

What are Dental Crowns Made Of?

Permanent dental crowns come in various materials, with the most popular ones being the following: 

Metal 

Metal dental crowns use different sources, including gold, chromium, nickel, and palladium. They’re durable and rarely chip, lasting the longest of all the materials. And metal crowns only need a small removal of your tooth, keeping most of the natural tooth intact.

But as durable as dental crowns are, the metallic color might be too flashy for many. Hence, many choose this material for out-of-sigh molars.

Here’s a brief overview of three metals used for dental crowns:

High Noble Alloys 

Also known as precious metals, noble alloys are incredibly durable. After all, they’re corrosion- and oxidation-resistant, allowing them to withstand acids. And the most commonly used in dental work is gold, specifically those in the platinum group in the heavy category and palladium on the lighter side.

Besides being malleable, dental crowns made of high noble alloys are ductile. Hence, these precious metals have become one of the most manageable and predictable materials, ensuring an accurate fit and bond.

Noble Alloys

Also referred to as semi-precious metals, they contain a lower proportion of noble metals. Hence, they are less durable, making them the second-best metal source for dental crowns. But they are more affordable, considering noble alloys don’t have a minimum required gold content.

Non-noble alloys 

Non-noble alloys, non-precious or base metal alloys are the cheapest metal source for dental crowns. These include copper, tin, nickel, and aluminum. 

But as accessible as non-noble alloys are, they’re very vulnerable, being more reactive than the other sources. They’re more reactive to the atmosphere, making non-noble alloys prone to oxidation and corrosion. 

Besides, non-noble alloys are more challenging for dentists to work with as they have an extremely high melting temperature, making soldering and casting more challenging. Moreover, the material also shows shrinkage during casting, which needs much compensation.

The upside to base metals is they’re more durable and flexible than other sources. Dentists can make them into thinner crowns while maintaining the rigidity needed for proper application. But again, their hardness makes it difficult for dentists to burnish and polish them. 

Stainless Steel 

Stainless steel crowns protect the tooth or filling until the permanent dental crown has been made. And since this isn’t practical for adults, many dentists recommend this material for primary (baby) teeth in kids. 

The stainless steel dental crown will come out when a primary tooth falls. And this will require fewer dental visits for fitting and cementing, which is perfect for those on a tight budget.

Porcelain-fused-to-Metal Hybrid

This material hybrid often matches the tooth’s color next to the crown. It boasts a more natural-looking hue, perfect for the front and back teeth. 

Aside from that, the dental crown’s porcelain part may chip or break off, wearing down the tooth adjacent to it within your mouth. 

All-resin

All-resin dental crowns combine different plastic-type materials colored to match the natural tooth’s color. And common varieties used for dentistry include silicon dioxide, acrylic polymer, and Polymethyl Methacrylate resin.

All-resin is metal-free, allowing for easy combination with other shades and matching natural teeth color. Hence, many find this to be the most aesthetically-pleasing option.

The reason why many use this material as a temporary measure is because resin wears down fast. Besides that, all-resin crowns are more prone to fractures than other materials. Finally, they require a massive chunk of your natural tooth removed.

But all-resin is an inexpensive option that suits those on a tight budget. 

All-ceramic or -porcelain

When matching the natural colors of your teeth, this material shines the best. But as aesthetically pleasing as this material is, it doesn’t work well for those with metal allergies. 

Zirconia 

The most robust ceramic dental crown available is zirconia. It’s a durable, virtually indestructible crystal, withstanding powerful biting and chewing forces. And zirconia also matches natural teeth color well, though porcelain is better.

A downside to zirconia crowns is that they’re nearly impossible to etch before cementation, requiring a different bond. Besides that, they’re also abrasive and pose a higher risk of wearing down adjacent teeth.

How Do Dentists Prepare Your Teeth for a Dental Crown?

You must visit the dentist twice to prepare for a dental crown. And in some instances, some dentists may make the crowns the same day in their office. Either way, here’s what you can expect when getting a dental crown:

Multi-Day Visitation

Initial Visit

The dentist will examine your tooth to be capped by a dental crown. They’ll often request an x-ray of the tooth and bone surrounding it. And some may ask to perform a root canal treatment before your dental crown fitting if any of these are present:

  • Tooth decay
  • An open wound
  • Tooth pulp injury

The dentist will file across the top and side of the tooth, receiving the crown and making space for it. And the amount of tooth that gets filed depends on the dental crown you’ll get. But all-metal dental crowns are often thinner and don’t require much removal.

Once the tooth’s reshaped, the dentist will apply a paste or putty to make a copy of your tooth. 

When done, your dentist will send them to the dental lab to have the crown molded. And this process can take 2 to 3 weeks to finish, so you’ll likely receive a temporary crown during your first visit. 

The Next Visit

Your dentist will put a permanent dental crown on your reshaped tooth. Once everything’s in check, your dentist will numb the tooth with local anesthetic and cement the new crown.

Same-day Dental Crowns

Some dentists accept same-day dental crown placement if they have the equipment. It’ll start like the multi-day visitation, initially removing decay and shaping the tooth for the perfect fit inside the crown. 

The difference for the same-day procedure is that the dentist will use a scanning device to take digital images of your tooth receiving the crown. And once the software creates the tooth’s 3D model, it will carve the crown’s shape using your preferred material. With this done, your dentist can cement the dental crowns without issue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What’s the most durable dental crown material available?

A: Porcelain and metal hybrids are the most robust dental crown material. They don’t chip as quickly as their pure porcelain and metal crowns. But its foundation may show if your gums have receded over time.

Q: What are the different kinds of dental crowns to choose from?

A: Different dental crowns include stainless steel, metal, and gold. But the most popular material is porcelain as it mimics natural teeth well. And you may also choose between metal and porcelain hybrids to find crowns to suit your taste.

Q: Is zirconia better than porcelain dental crowns?

A: Zirconia reigns best in durability for dental crowns, boasting 3x the strength of porcelain. It can handle wear and tear without chipping, tolerating more powerful forces of mastication and bruxism. 

Q: What’s the best dental crown material to get?

A: If you want an all-around material with incredible flexibility and strength, go for porcelain or ceramic. Not only are these materials solid and versatile, but they also provide the most natural look! They can match your natural teeth regardless of shape, size, and color. And best of all, porcelain and ceramic are biocompatible, keeping the crowns toxic-free.

Q: How many times can I replace my dental crowns?

A: You can replace your dental crowns as often as you wish, which won’t affect your natural teeth. Your dentist can remove and remake new ones without affecting the tooth structure underneath.

Final Thoughts

With the different dental crown materials at your disposal, it can be challenging to pick one. Hence, you’ll need the assistance of a qualified dentist to see which would suit your oral needs best. Whether you need a crown for better durability or looks, there’s something out there for you.

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