Crowns are custom-made, permanent dental restorations that are extremely common. They look like a hollow, tooth-shaped cap that is placed over the top of the tooth it is to cover. Most people think that crowns are purely functional, and while they are most often used to repair teeth that have been broken or weakened by tooth decay, they can also be used to improve the appearance of teeth.
Damaged teeth often look unattractive, especially if they are the teeth at the front part of your mouth. Conventional crowns used to repair them were usually made from metal, mainly because it is the strongest and most durable material. However, metal coverings can leave patients feeling self-conscious or even embarrassed about the way that their teeth look. Similarly, if you have had a large part of your tooth repaired using a metal amalgam filling, you may dislike the way that your teeth now look. Fortunately, cosmetic crowns provide you with an alternative option.
In the past, functional crowns focused purely on the repair of teeth, with no real concern about the way that they looked. However, the materials used to create crowns have evolved so that it’s possible to repair the function of teeth and improve the way that they look.
Some of the different materials that can be used to create crowns include:
Zirconia. Zirconia is a fairly new material that is white ceramic and extremely strong and durable. The white ceramic is obviously more natural in appearance than metal, but it is quite opaque and not as translucent as natural teeth. This makes zirconia a top choice for crowning back teeth, which are larger and require additional strength, but that isn’t as visible as those teeth at the front.
Porcelain/ceramic-covered metal. Ceramic is the closest in appearance to natural teeth, but it’s not very strong. This means that it is often fused to a metal shell. It’s sometimes known as a PFM crown, which stands for porcelain fused metal. However, since traditional ceramic is fairly translucent, it's sometimes possible to see the metal structure within.
Sometimes crowns are made from a combination of zirconia and ceramic. The zirconia forms the central layer of the crown, and ceramic is used to cover the outside to provide a more natural appearance. This enables patients to benefit from the durability and a natural appearance.
Cosmetic crowns can be used to repair exactly the same damage as conventional crowns, including:
Broken sections of the tooth
Large areas of decay that may have weakened teeth or look unsightly
To cover a tooth that has had a root canal
Crowns are also used as the visible element of a dental implant. A custom-designed crown is created and attached to the implanted post, completing the restoration of a fully functional, permanent tooth.
They can be used purely cosmetically – such as to replace existing crown restorations or to cover teeth that are discolored or stained. Your dentist will be able to advise you if you are a suitable candidate for a dental crown and the best material that should be used to complete the restoration of your smile.
If you would like to find out more about dental crowns or to schedule an appointment to see if you would be a good candidate, please speak to our dedicated dental team in La Jolla, CA today.