Dental Crowns Explained

Dental crowns are custom-designed restorative prosthetics that restore strength, function, shape and appearance to a damaged tooth. They also protect the weakened or decaying tooth by holding it in place.

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They come in several different materials and are suitable for a wide range of cosmetic problems. The most common are porcelain and zirconia crowns.

Porcelain

Porcelain crowns are an innovative restorative dentistry solution that can address a wide range of common tooth problems. They provide both cosmetic and functional benefits by acting as a sort of “cap” for the damaged teeth. This means that they can effectively mask a number of issues, including tooth discoloration, wear and tear, small chips and cracks, and even minor gaps between the teeth.

Porcelain crowns are typically used to restore front teeth that have been damaged. However, they can be used to cover and repair molars as well. In order to prepare the tooth or teeth that will receive a crown, the dentist will first take an impression of the area using a type of putty that holds the shape of the tooth or teeth. The impressions will be sent off-site to a lab where the crown will be made.

Generally, porcelain crowns last for about 15 years or more, although they do need to be maintained properly. They also need to be inspected regularly at your regular dental hygiene and exam appointments.

If you are interested in porcelain crowns, talk to your dentist about what kind of durability and aesthetics you are looking for. All-porcelain crowns are the most visually appealing, but they can be less durable than metal and ceramic-fused-to-metal options. Porcelain-zirconia crowns are a good option if you need something more durable, and they can be color-matched to your existing natural teeth.

Zirconia

Zirconia is a ceramic material that offers superior strength and durability. It is also color-adjustable to blend seamlessly with your teeth. Zirconia is metal-free, making it biocompatible. This means that unlike PFM crowns, it won’t irritate or reject the tissue surrounding your tooth. Several studies have shown that zirconia is one of the best materials to date for dental crowns.

Because of its high durability, it is ideal for molars in the back of the mouth. Zirconia can withstand the tremendous forces that back teeth exert, and it resists cracking and breaking. In addition, it can endure the grinding and clenching known as bruxism.

Another advantage of zirconia is that it looks like a natural tooth, and it will not yellow or discolor over time. This is great for patients who want a white smile and are concerned about the gray lines that can develop on PFM crowns.

Your dentist will fabricate a custom-made zirconia crown in the lab. Using digital pictures and scans, they will match the crown to your bite. This process is called CAD/CAM, and it results in higher quality prosthetics than traditional hand-crafting methods. Look for a lab that follows strict international specifications and utilizes cutting-edge technology. Then, your dentist will cement the crown to the natural tooth during a second appointment. The crown will last for several years, and it can be replaced with a new one later on if necessary.

All-metal

These crowns have a metal base that attaches to the natural tooth. Then a layer of porcelain is modeled over it, colour matched to your teeth and bonded to the metal base. This gives the crown strength while also blending it right in with your smile. These are referred to as PFM (porcelain fused to metal) crowns or VMK (porcelain on metallic core).

Metal crowns are very durable and can last the longest of any type of dental crown. They also withstand biting and chewing forces very well and rarely chip or break. However, their metallic color can cause them to stand out in a smile and they are more noticeable than other crown types.

The cost of a crown will depend on its type, material and whether or not your insurance covers it. Your dentist will be able to give you an estimate for the total cost of your treatment.

Many dental insurance plans cover all or a portion of the cost of a crown. Check with your insurance company to find out more about coverage details. You can also choose to go to an in-network dental office that offers flexible payment options to reduce your out-of-pocket costs. This way, you can save money while getting the high-quality care you need. You’ll be glad you did.

Ceramic-fused-to-metal

Often abbreviated PFM or VMK crowns, these are bilayered restorations with a metal substructure that is placed over and cemented to your natural tooth. A porcelain layer is then fused to the metal base and the result is a strong, durable dental crown that can withstand chewing forces.

Traditionally, feldspathic porcelain was used for these crowns, but now many labs are making them with newer types of ceramics that have more durability and lifelike aesthetics than those used in traditional PFMs. The best example of this is Glidewell’s BruxZir line of zirconia crowns, which are available in both full-strength and esthetic varieties to meet your clinical needs.

These newer porcelains are also easier for dentists to work with than those used in PFM crowns because they do not oxidize or change color when being made and fired in the laboratory. The esthetic versions of these crowns can even be finished with a polished, high-luster surface which makes them look very much like your own natural teeth.

VC Dental uses the Procera and Empress ceramics for these crowns, both of which are monolithic (meaning they use one standard shade of porcelain). Both are custom milled in-house on our CAD/CAM machine, which means that no impressions need to be taken. This helps to conserve as much natural tooth structure as possible.