What Are Dental Crowns?

Dental crowns can be considered a replacement for a tooth’s natural crown, to restore your tooth’s function and to replace a missing tooth. Dental crowns can either be cemented onto already present tooth structure if it is sufficient enough after preparation or bonded onto a post (small metal screw) that is inserted into a tooth’s root for support. They are also used to cover dental implants. They completely cover the tooth like a cap or encircle it, just like a ‘crown’ encircles the head when worn.

Dental crowns are indicated when a tooth’s crown has completely broken off, when root canal treatment has been performed or when a dental implant has been inserted into the bone.

They are made up of durable, biologically friendly materials such as porcelain, all-resin (organic) materials, metals such gold or inert metal alloys like palladium or nickel-chromium alloys and Porcelain Fused to Metal (PFM crowns).

Materials for the crown

Porcelain and all-resin materials offer the best match to natural tooth color and are the most esthetically pleasing materials for crowns. Their disadvantage is that they are not very durable and are subject to wear, so are not as long lasting as metal or PFM crowns.

Metal crowns are the most durable and long lasting but their only draw-back is their metallic appearance. They are best used for posterior tooth crowns since most mechanical forces are back there, and the crowns are more difficult to see.

By far the best crowns are PFM crowns as they offer the dual benefits of a natural appearance of teeth along with the metal core that offers greater durability and is longer lasting.

Do I need dental crowns?

You are a candidate for a dental crown if you have any of the following problems:

  • Cracked tooth
  • Missing, broken or worn natural crown
  • Internally discolored tooth
  • Have had endodontic or root canal treatment
  • Need support for a dental bridge
  • If you have a dental implant
  • If you have a very large cavity that compromises the functional vitality of your tooth

Dental crowns are generally a better and cheaper option for replacing lost tooth structure than getting a damaged tooth extracted entirely and replacing it with an implant. In such a case, a dental crown is still needed. Crowns offer protection to whatever tooth structure is left after extensive tooth decay or damage and should always be considered before a dental implant.