What Is the Best Material for Dental Crowns?

Your smile is a big deal, right? You want it to look great and feel even better. That’s where dental crowns step in to save the day! Dental crowns are versatile restorations that encase a weakened or broken tooth, restoring its shape, appearance, and strength. 

They become necessary in various situations, such as protecting a tooth after a root canal, repairing a severely decayed tooth, or enhancing the aesthetics of a misshapen or damaged tooth.

In this guide, we will navigate the world of dental crown materials to help you make an informed decision. You’ll discover the unique advantages and potential drawbacks of each material, ensuring that you choose the best type of dental crown for your specific dental needs. 

Metal (Non-Gold) Crowns

Metal crowns have a rich history in the dental world. They’re famous for their tough, sturdy nature, which makes them a dependable option for fixing teeth. These crowns are made from different metals, like high-noble alloys, noble alloys (with a bit less precious metal), and base metal alloys (containing metals like nickel and chromium). 

Pros

  • Durability: Metal crowns are exceptionally strong and can withstand the forces of chewing and biting. They are less likely to chip or break compared to other materials.
  • Longevity: These crowns have an impressive track record of lasting a long time. They can serve you well for decades without needing replacement.
  • Minimal Tooth Removal: To place a metal crown, your dentist typically needs to remove less natural tooth structure compared to other materials, such as porcelain.
  • Biocompatibility: High-noble and noble alloys are biocompatible, making them a safe option for most patients.

Cons

  • Aesthetic Concerns: Metal crowns are easily noticeable in your mouth due to their metallic color. They are less discreet than other crown materials, which can be a cosmetic concern for many patients, especially when they need a crown on a front tooth.
  • Thermal Conductivity: Metal crowns can be sensitive to temperature changes. They may transfer hot and cold sensations to the underlying tooth, which some patients find uncomfortable.

Gold Crowns

These are known for their touch of luxury and elegance. Gold’s role in dentistry goes back to ancient civilizations, showing its enduring charm in dental care. These crowns are usually crafted from a high-noble alloy, a mix of gold alloy, copper, and other metals. 

Pros

  • Durability: Gold crowns are renowned for their incredible durability. They can withstand the forces of biting and chewing exceptionally well and are less likely to chip or break than other materials.
  • Longevity: Gold crowns have a proven track record of longevity, lasting decades, making them a cost-effective choice in the long run.
  • Biocompatibility: This makes gold crowns a suitable option for patients with metal sensitivities.
  • Precise Fit: Gold crowns are fabricated with great precision, ensuring a tight fit that minimizes the risk of bacteria or debris getting underneath the crown.

Cons

  • Aesthetic Concerns: The most apparent drawback of gold crowns is their color. They are very conspicuous in the mouth due to their shiny appearance. This makes them less suitable for front teeth, where a natural look is typically preferred.
  • Cost: Gold crowns can be more expensive than other materials, primarily due to the price of gold itself. While they offer excellent longevity, their initial cost may be a consideration for some patients.
  • Tooth Discoloration: Over time, the edge of a gold crown near the gumline may become visible, potentially leading to a gray or dark line around the tooth.

Zirconium

Zirconium, a newcomer in the dental material scene, has become a hit. Dentists often turn to this material for crowns and other dental fixes because it does a fantastic job and looks just like the real deal.

Pros

  • Strength and Durability: Zirconia crowns are tough cookies, standing strong against the trials of everyday use, compared to PFM crowns. They can withstand the forces of biting and chewing, offering excellent longevity.
  • Aesthetic Value: Zirconia has a translucent quality that closely resembles natural teeth. They shine, especially for the front teeth, ensuring your smile looks natural and beautiful.
  • Minimally Invasive: They can be made thinner, preserving more of your natural tooth while still being solid and good-looking.

Cons

  • Brittleness: Zirconia can be a bit brittle in certain situations. In rare cases, it might chip or crack, especially if the crown is ultra-thin. 
  • Thickness: Achieving a natural and translucent appearance often requires thicker zirconia crowns, which may require more tooth reduction during preparation.
  • Difficulty of Repair: In the event of damage, repairing a zirconia crown can be challenging, and replacement may be necessary in some cases.

Ceramic

Ceramics has been a go-to in the dental world for a while now. That’s why it’s a top pick for tooth crowns. There’s also a new type of crown in dentistry known as E -Max. It is a type of all-ceramic crown made of lithium disilicate.

Pros

  • Natural Aesthetics: Ceramic crowns closely mimic the appearance of natural teeth in terms of color, translucency, and texture. Most patients seem to agree they look more natural than porcelain (coming up next). They are an excellent choice for front teeth or any visible areas of your smile.
  • Biocompatibility: Ceramic is well-tolerated by the body, making it less likely to cause allergic reactions or gum irritation.
  • Minimal Tooth Reduction: Ceramic crowns often require less removal of healthy tooth structure during preparation compared to other materials.

Cons

  • Delicate: Ceramic crowns can be a bit more delicate. So, if you have a history of clenching or grinding, they might chip or crack more easily. 
  • Cost: Also, when it comes to the price tag, ceramic crowns usually come with a higher cost compared to metal ones. The exact price can vary, primarily based on the type of ceramic chosen.
  • Potential Wear on Opposing Teeth: Ceramic crowns can be abrasive and may cause wear on natural teeth that come into contact with them during biting and chewing.

Porcelain

Porcelain crowns are a popular choice in restorative dentistry, known for their natural appearance and versatility. They offer several advantages and are often used in front and back teeth restorations.

Pros

  • Natural Appearance: Porcelain crowns closely resemble the color, translucency, and texture of natural teeth, making them an excellent choice for highly visible areas of your smile. 
  • Biocompatibility: Porcelain is well-tolerated by the body, reducing the risk of metal allergies or gum irritation.
  • Minimally Invasive: Compared to some other materials, such as stainless steel or resin crowns, porcelain crowns often require less removal of healthy tooth structure during preparation, which helps preserve more of your natural tooth.

Cons

  • Not Strong: Porcelain crowns are less robust than metal or zirconia alternatives (though stronger than ceramic), making them less suitable for molars and teeth exposed to heavy chewing forces. They might chip or crack more easily.
  • Cost: Porcelain crowns often have a higher price tag than their metal counterparts. 
  • Thicker Design: Also, for that true-to-life look, porcelain crowns need to be a bit thicker. This means a tad more reduction of your natural tooth is necessary.

Choose the Right Dental Crown Material

Each material has its perks and quirks, so choosing the right one is a bit of a dental adventure.

If you’re all about strength and durability, or maybe you’re all in for the Hollywood smile, or perhaps you’re just watching those pennies, well, the dental crown material can make all the difference.

Your decision should match your unique dental needs, your style, and, of course, your wallet. 

Why not schedule a consultation with us at Gregory Puccio? We’ll talk through the perfect fit for your dental health.