Which Crown is right for you?
As part of your dental treatment, it is your right to be able to choose the materials that will be permanently placed in your mouth. In this article we will highlight the main materials we use to make crowns. In our blog article “A Crown Fit for a King…or a Tooth” we briefly discussed the differences between Gold, Porcelain fused to Gold, Zirconia and All-Ceramic but we will go into further detail here.
To begin with, Full Gold crowns are the most time tested materials used for crowns. The best part of the gold crown is that gold is very biocompatible. This means it works really well with your natural body chemistry to fit in. For instance, gold is hard enough to resist breaking down over time but soft enough to not wear down the neighboring teeth. Gold is also strong enough that the tooth structure that is removed during the preparation for the crown is less than some other materials, thus saves valuable enamel for later if needed. The one down side of gold is the color. Because most people want their dental work to blend in, they prefer not to use gold on teeth that are visible when smiling. Generally speaking a gold crown is a great option for the back teeth.
Another time tested crown material is the Porcelain Fused to Gold crown or PFM. The PFM is made of a gold substructure that is covered with a layer of tooth colored porcelain for a great look. This material has all of the great qualities of the biocompatibility and strength of gold but also has a great look as well. But because of the added layer of the porcelain, more tooth structure does need to be removed to get a proper fit of a PFM and as time goes on the gold can begin to show through around the gumline, which may be darker in color. Another potential downside of the PFM is that the porcelain can chip off over time. While the PFM has been around a long time it is slowly being phased out by new materials with less downsides.
Zirconia is one of the newer materials used to make crowns. Zirconia is one of the hardest materials used in dentistry, making it very resistant to fracturing or breaking. The hardness also allows us to make the crown very thin (similar to the full gold crown) and conserve precious tooth structure. The hardness of the Zirconia does come with a little bit of a cost as it will wear a little harder on the neighboring teeth as a person bites and grinds through life. Zirconia is tooth colored, and thus can be used for back teeth as well as front teeth, although Zirconia tends to be a little more of a solid color and thus can be harder to match the naturally translucent tooth.
In areas that may not require the hardness of Zirconia or Gold, and you need a great look, an All- Ceramic Crown is a great choice. All-Ceramic crowns are great to use in the front of the mouth as they are tooth colored, can have more translucency to match natural tooth better and can be layered to add depth to the color. While these crowns are not as strong as other alternatives, they are plenty strong enough to handle moderate forces applied by the teeth in the front of the mouth.
Hopefully this article will better inform you and help you select which choice is right for you! After all, if you are getting a crown, it will be in YOUR mouth! As always, ask your dentist if you have any questions about selecting a type of crown for your situation.