What You Need To Know Now About Choosing The Right Crown For Your Smile

Posted on: 13 February 2017

Your smile is your crowning glory. Sometimes, though, a tooth may become weak or broken. It's then that your smile needs the royal treatment. When your dentist tells you that you need a crown to strengthen a tooth or when you need a crown due to a dental implant, you must choose a type of crown based on your dentist's recommendations and on what your insurance permits.

First, what is a crown? A crown is simply a "cap" that protects a weak tooth or that fits over a dental implant. Crowns can be temporary or permanent. There are 5 basic types of crowns:

  • stainless steel
  • metals
  • porcelain fused to metal
  • all resin
  • all porcelain (ceramic)

Stainless steel and all-resin crowns are most suited to temporary use as they wear more quickly than permanent crowns. Temporary crowns can often be made at your dentist's office. Crowns made of metal or porcelain are made to be worn permanently. Permanent crowns still wear, but more slowly than temporary crowns and they are not prone to chipping or breaking like temporary crowns can be. Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of each.

Stainless Steel (temporary)

Depending on the manufacturer, stainless steel crowns can be composed of the following: chromium, nickel, carbon, iron, manganese.

Pros: primarily for children, although okay for adults, less expensive overall as no multiple dentist visits required

Cons: wear, those sensitive to or allergic to nickel should always consult their dentist and allergist, there may be pediatric alternatives available

All Resin (temporary)

Resins are a mixture of synthetic polymers such as plastic and silica.

Pros: least expensive, can be made in your dentist's office, easily conforms to teeth and can be better matched to tooth color

Cons: wear, can chip or break easily

Metals (permanent)

Metal alloys are used in crowns as they are superior in strength to using a single pure metal. There are precious, semi-precious, and non-precious metals that can be used to create the alloys for the metal and porcelain fused to metal crowns. Here is a representative sampling: gold, silver, copper, palladium, platinum, tin, zinc, iridium and indium. The non-precious metal crowns are the least expensive and may contain nickel, chrome, or beryllium. If you have an allergy to any metal, you should look for an alternative type of crown.

Pros: long-wearing and strong, rarely chipping or breaking, best for back teeth as they are metal and not tooth-colored

Cons: precious and semi-precious metal crowns can be quite costly and may not be covered by insurance, color may not be suitable for front teeth

Porcelain Fused to Metal (permanent)

Porcelain or ceramic fused to a metal alloy

Pros: strong overall due to metal base, long lasting, porcelain is great for front teeth as they can be matched to tooth color

Cons: metal base can show underneath the porcelain as it ages or if gums begin to recede, porcelain can chip or break, can be pricey

All Porcelain/Ceramic (permanent)

Crowns are made of porcelain or ceramic.

Pros: can be matched to tooth color, strong and long lasting

Cons: porcelain can chip or break, can be pricey, not as strong as porcelain fused to metal crowns

Insurance is usually a primary consideration regarding crowns. Shop around and do your research (especially if you have metal allergies). Ask your dentist specific questions about the amount of visits, time involved at each visit, time between visits, and general procedures. Here's to finding your healthiest-looking smile again!