What Are Dental Crowns and Why Would I Need Them?

Many people still associate dental crowns with Hollywood smiles. Stars having their teeth “capped” seemed to be the only way teeth could be so impossibly white in the golden age of the silver screen. In fact, dental crowns are most often used as a method to save a tooth that may otherwise be lost to decay or damage. Even so, aesthetics often remain important, particularly if you need a crown on a tooth that is visible when you smile.

You can choose dental crowns for appearance reasons, though that’s usually a task for a dental veneer, a product that’s also sometimes known as a cap. The big difference is that a veneer covers the visible surface of a tooth, while a dental crown fully encapsulates the natural crown of your tooth, above the gumline.

Construction of dental crowns

There is a wide range of materials used in the manufacture of dental crowns, and each of which has its own pros and cons. A variety of metals are used on their own, in alloys, and fused to porcelain shells. Gold, platinum, stainless steel, and cobalt- and nickel-chromium alloys are the most common. Metal-based crowns don’t have the appearance of natural teeth without a porcelain shell, so metal-only crowns are usually most appropriate for molars, in a high-strength, low-visibility application.

Porcelain can also be used exclusively for a crown, without a metal base, though these are more easily damaged. This ceramic material, however, most closely matches the appearance of natural tooth enamel and porcelain crowns can be made to match the color of your other teeth. When you need a crown on front teeth, porcelain is usually the best choice, alone or over metal.

Resin crowns are the least expensive to manufacture, but these are also the least durable, so repair or replacement is likely, compared with longer-lasting metal or metal/porcelain crowns.

Reasons for dental crowns

Dental crowns are primarily tooth preservation appliances. For instance, if you have a chipped or cracked tooth, it may still be functional, but it could be weakened and in danger of more serious damage. A crown cemented over this tooth adds strength and protection while preserving the tooth and its root, an important part of your overall dental health.

Likewise, teeth that are worn down or those with large, older fillings may benefit from crowns. While fillings can be long-lasting, they’re not permanent. Once again, the crown adds strength and protects the natural tooth. Crowns can also support dental bridges, special restorations that replace lost teeth. Crowns on either side of a gap can support the artificial teeth filling the gap.

You can even treat alignment and appearance issues with crowns, straightening crooked, misshapen, or discolored teeth. A more recent development in restorative dentistry is the dental implant, a metal replacement for the root of a lost tooth, which is capped with a dental crown.

Schedule a visit with Dr. Ana Grace Santos at ABC Dental to learn more about how dental crowns can improve your appearance and your bite. You can call the office directly or use the online booking tool to arrange your consultation. 

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