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Dental crowns: different types of crowns, advantages and disadvantages

dental crowns

Dental crowns can help restore the appearance, function, and strength of a damaged or decayed tooth. There are different kinds of dental crowns available, let’s discover the advantages and disadvantages of each type to help you make the right choice when going to the dentist.

What are dental crowns?

dental crown is a tooth-shaped cover that is placed over a damaged or decayed tooth. The crown acts as a protective cover, preventing further damage or decay to the tooth. Dental crowns can be made from a variety of materials, including zirconia, ceramic, metal, porcelain and composite resin.

Why are dental crowns needed?

Dental crowns are used to restore teeth that have been damaged or that are decayed. Some common reasons for needing a dental crown include:

  • A large cavity that cannot be filled with a filling
  • A cracked or chipped tooth
  • A tooth that has undergone a root canal
  • A tooth that has been worn down due to bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • A tooth that is misshapen or discoloured

What are the different types of dental crowns?

There are several different types of dental crowns available. The type of crown that is best for you will depend on many factors, therefore it’s very important to discuss the advantages and disadvantages with the dentist to determine the best option for your individual needs. Here are some of the most common types of dental crowns:

Zirconia crowns

Zirconia crowns have gained popularity in recent years due to their excellent strength and durability. They are made from zirconium oxide, a biocompatible material that is used in various medical applications, including dental implants.

Advantages of zirconia crowns

  • Excellent durability: Zirconia crowns are highly durable and can withstand a significant amount of biting and chewing pressure. They are an excellent choice for back teeth that require high strength and durability.
  • Aesthetically pleasing: Zirconia crowns can be customised to match the colour and shape of the natural teeth, providing an aesthetically pleasing result. They are suitable for front teeth and can blend in seamlessly with the surrounding teeth.
  • Biocompatible: Zirconia is a biocompatible material that is not rejected by the body. This means that zirconia crowns are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction or inflammation, making them an excellent choice for people with metal allergies.
  • Resistant to corrosion: Zirconia crowns are highly resistant to corrosion, which means that they will not deteriorate or discolour over time. This makes them a long-lasting and low-maintenance option.

Disadvantages of zirconia crowns

  • High cost: Zirconia crowns can be more expensive than other types of crowns, such as metal or porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns.
  • Difficult to adjust: Zirconia crowns are challenging to adjust once they are cemented in place. This means that if the crown needs to be adjusted or repaired, it may need to be completely replaced.
  • Less translucency: Zirconia crowns are less translucent than other types of crowns, such as ceramic or porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. This means that they may not provide the same level of natural-looking appearance as other types of crowns.

Zirconia crowns, therefore, have excellent strength, durability, and aesthetic qualities, making them an excellent choice for back teeth and front teeth. However, they can be more expensive than other types of crowns and they are difficult to adjust once they are in place.

eMax crowns

eMax crowns are a popular type of all-ceramic dental crowns that are used to restore damaged, decayed or discoloured teeth. eMax is a brand name for lithium disilicate glass ceramic, a material that has been widely used in dentistry due to its strength and aesthetic properties.

Advantages of eMax crowns

  • Aesthetically pleasing: eMax crowns are highly aesthetic and can be customised to match the colour and shape of the natural teeth, providing a natural-looking result. They are an excellent choice for front teeth that require an aesthetically pleasing restoration.
  • Excellent strength: eMax crowns are made of a strong, durable material that can withstand a significant amount of biting and chewing pressure. They are an excellent choice for back teeth that require high strength and durability.
  • Minimally invasive: eMax crowns are minimally invasive, which means that less tooth structure needs to be removed compared to other types of crowns, such as porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns.
  • Biocompatible: eMax is a biocompatible material that is not rejected by the body. This means that eMax crowns are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction or inflammation, making them an excellent choice for people with metal allergies.

Disadvantages of eMax crowns

  • Higher cost: eMax crowns are more expensive than other types of crowns, such as metal or porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns.
  • Limited strength: While eMax crowns are highly durable, they are not as strong as zirconia crowns, which are made of a more robust material. This means that eMax crowns may not be the best choice for back teeth that require high strength and durability.
  • Can cause wear on opposing teeth: eMax crowns are highly aesthetic and may cause wear on opposing teeth, especially if they are not adjusted correctly.
  • More susceptible to fracture: eMax crowns are more susceptible to fracture than other types of crowns, such as zirconia crowns. This means that they may require more frequent replacement.

eMax crowns have therefore excellent aesthetic properties, strength, and biocompatibility, which makes them an excellent choice for front teeth requiring an aesthetically pleasing restoration. However, they can be more expensive than other types of crowns, and they are not as strong as zirconia crowns, which may limit their use in back teeth.

Porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns

Porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns are made from a combination of porcelain and metal. The metal is used to create a strong base, while the porcelain is used to create a natural-looking appearance. PFM crowns are often used on back teeth, as they are durable and aesthetically pleasing.

Advantages of PFM crowns:

  • Durability: PFM crowns are very durable and can last for many years if properly cared for.
  • Aesthetics: PFM crowns provide a natural-looking appearance due to the porcelain layer that can be colour-matched to the existing teeth.
  • Biocompatibility: The metal used in PFM crowns is typically a non-reactive material and is considered biocompatible with human tissues.
  • Cost-effective: PFM crowns are less expensive than all-porcelain or all-ceramic crowns.

Disadvantages of PFM crowns:

  • Metal visibility: PFM crowns may have a metal substructure that can sometimes be visible at the gum line, which can be a cosmetic concern for some patients.
  • Wear on opposing teeth: The metal substructure of the PFM crown may cause more wear on the opposing teeth than other types of crowns.
  • Allergic reactions: Although rare, some patients may have an allergic reaction to the metal used in PFM crowns.
  • Non-translucent: The opaque nature of the metal substructure of PFM crowns may result in a less natural appearance than all-ceramic or all-porcelain crowns.

Overall, PFM crowns can be a good option for restoring a damaged tooth, as they not only can withstand a significant amount of biting and chewing pressure, but they are also affordable, durable and eye-pleasing, even though they may not be the best choice for front teeth.

Ceramic crowns

Ceramic crowns are made entirely from porcelain or other ceramic materials. They are highly aesthetic and can provide a natural-looking appearance, which is why they are often used for restorations on front teeth.

Advantages of ceramic crowns:

  • Aesthetic appeal: Ceramic crowns can be matched to the colour of your natural teeth, giving them a more natural appearance than other types of crowns. This makes them a popular choice for people who are concerned about the appearance of their smile.
  • Biocompatibility: Ceramic crowns are made of materials that are biocompatible and do not cause allergic reactions or other adverse effects in the body.
  • Durability: Ceramic crowns are highly durable and can last for many years with proper care and maintenance.
  • Resistant to wear: Ceramic crowns are resistant to wear and tear, which means they can withstand the daily wear and tear of chewing and biting without cracking or breaking.

Disadvantages of ceramic crowns:

  • Cost: Ceramic crowns can be more expensive than other types of crowns, such as metal or composite resin crowns.
  • Brittle: While ceramic crowns are durable, they can be brittle and are more prone to cracking or breaking than other types of crowns.
  • Fit: Because ceramic crowns are made of a solid piece of material, they may not fit as well as other types of crowns that can be adjusted during the fitting process.
  • Not suitable for all teeth: Ceramic crowns may not be suitable for all teeth, particularly those with large cavities or extensive damage, as they may not provide enough support.

Not as durable as metal or PFM crowns, ceramic crowns are aesthetically pleasing and can be a good choice for restoring damaged or decayed teeth but may not be the best choice for back teeth as they tend to chip or break over time.

Metal crowns

Metal crowns are made from gold alloysilvergold or other metals. They are incredibly durable and can last for many years. Metal crowns are often used on back teeth, as they are less visible than other types of crowns.

Advantages of metal crowns:

  • Durability: Metal crowns are highly durable and can last for many years, making them a good option for molars and other teeth that receive a lot of wear and tear.
  • Biocompatibility: Metal crowns are made of materials that are biocompatible and do not cause allergic reactions or other adverse effects in the body.
  • Minimal removal of tooth structure: Metal crowns require less removal of the tooth structure compared to other types of crowns, such as porcelain or ceramic.
  • Cost: Metal crowns can be more cost-effective than other types of crowns.

Disadvantages of metal crowns:

  • Aesthetic appeal: Metal crowns are not as aesthetically pleasing as other types of crowns, such as ceramic or porcelain. This is because they are highly visible and do not match the colour of natural teeth.
  • Conduction: Metal crowns can conduct heat and cold, which can cause discomfort or sensitivity for some patients. Can also cause a metallic taste in the mouth.
  • Wear on opposing teeth: Metal crowns can cause wear on opposing teeth due to their hardness and weight.
  • Corrosion: Metal crowns can corrode over time, which may require replacement.

Metal crowns can be a good option for certain situations, such as for back teeth or when cost is a concern. However, their aesthetic drawbacks may not make them the best choice for front teeth, and their potential for wear on opposing teeth and corrosion may require replacement over time.

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