Q. There seem to be many different types of crowns out there: metal, metal-free, porcelain. Which one is the best and why?
A. Crowns come in many varieties; there is no best crown for all applications. There are two main categories of crowns: full metal and tooth-colored. Full metal crowns usually mean gold crowns. Gold crowns are the strongest crowns made, but often are not as aesthetically pleasing as other types of crowns. Tooth-colored crowns have many different variations.
The following provides an overview of crowns available today:
• Porcelain Fused to Metal: Strong crown with proven durability. Most tooth-colored restorations are still done with this material.
• Zirconia: New studies show zirconia crowns are as good as porcelain fused to metal crowns, with superior aesthetics.
• Alumina: Same aesthetics as zirconia crowns, but according to recent studies, alumina is not as strong as its zirconia counterpart.
• Full Porcelain: Most beautiful of all crowns. The compromise is in the strength, which is not rated for posterior teeth. Great for veneers.
• Full Porcelain CAD/CAM: More of a technique than a material. Milled in the dentist’s office, this procedure provides fast-service aesthetics. They are operator specific, so results can vary. These restorations are strong and durable and can be used for posterior teeth.
Technique has a tremendous amount to do with how a crown looks and functions, in the short-term and long-term. Selecting the right material and using an appropriate technique will provide a crown that is not easily seen once placed permanently, as well as a durable restoration to last many years.
There are many brands and variations available for crowns, as well as other materials that are occasionally used. This information gives you a good starting point in talking to your dentist when making a material selection.
Mark McOmie, D.M.D.
McOmie Family Dentistry
5999 Shallowford Road
Chattanooga, TN 37421
Ph. (423) 899-1112