From dental implants to dental bonding, dental restorations can take many different forms. No matter which you choose, the goal is to preserve as much of the natural tooth as possible while still maintaining oral health and a beautiful smile. When a tooth’s roots are healthy but the tooth above the gumline needs a replacement, there are many types of dental crowns to choose from.

What is a dental crown?

A dental crown is a fake tooth that replaces the natural tooth that we see when we look in the mirror. There are a variety of reasons why a natural tooth might be damaged beyond repair, including:

  • Broken tooth
  • Cracked tooth
  • Tooth with a large filling that has shrunk, leaving room for decay
  • Tooth with a past root canal that has further damage in the tooth
  • Badly discolored or cracked teeth
  • Tooth decay

The dental crown procedure is straightforward and generally takes one to two hours from the time you walk in the dentist’s office to the time you collect your complimentary toothbrush on the way out.

First, your dentist numbs the area. If the dental crown is on a front tooth, they may offer a professional tooth whitening treatment, as a crown will not respond to whitening in the future. They’ll make an impression of your tooth and fix a temporary crown while crafting your permanent crown in the lab.

They’ll file the tooth above the gumline to receive the crown. Your dentist carefully cleans this surface, and then fits the tooth with its temporary crown and temporary adhesive. When the permanent crown is ready, it will replace the temporary crown and your dentist will check it for fit.

What are the types of dental crowns?

The different types of dental crowns all serve the same function: restoring your beautiful smile for a tooth that is too damaged to fill but not damaged enough to extract.

There are four types of dental crowns.

1. Ceramic dental crowns

Ceramic crowns are created from either natural or manufactured ceramic material. They are very natural in appearance and are durable, making them a great choice for placement on chewing surfaces (but pretty enough for front teeth!). These are a bit thicker and require more removal of natural tooth to create a proper seal.

AZ Dentist works with master ceramists who have been in their industry for decades. They work to make sure the ceramic crown you receive is virtually indistinguishable from your natural teeth.

2. Zirconia dental crowns

Zirconia crowns are another natural-looking option. Made of zirconium oxide, zirconia crowns are stronger than their ceramic counterparts and less likely to chip or crack. This durability comes with a price. Zirconia crowns can cost twice as much as ceramic, unfortunately, insurance companies are often reluctant to pick up that additional cost.

This type of crown can be either solid or layered. Solid crowns are stronger and good for molars, especially for patients who also grind their teeth. However, the durability of these crowns can also be their downfall. Some patients find that the tougher zirconia material can cause additional wear on their opposite teeth when they bite down.

For replacing front teeth, layered zirconia crowns reflect light and are the most natural-looking option.

3. Porcelain fused to metal

Porcelain fused to metal are exactly what they sound like. This type of material is shaped on top of a metal frame, with the metal frame contacting the prepared tooth surface and gum.

Although this type of crown is affordable and durable, some patients find they are sensitive to the metals in this dental crown and need them replaced eventually. Additionally, this crown may begin to rub and wear down the adjacent teeth.

Another drawback to this type of dental crown is the appearance. The metal lining the crown may show up as a thin line against the gum. For this reason, porcelain fused to metal crowns are generally reserved for back teeth.

On the back teeth, though, chips and cracks caused by excessive force can occur in the porcelain, necessitating the crown’s replacement.

4. Gold and other metals

Gold and other all-metal dental crowns (e.g., palladium or nickel) may be the flashiest options, as they do not match your other teeth. This type of dental crown is durable and requires less removal of natural tooth material. Metal crowns do not chip and wear very slowly, but because they are so obviously a restoration they should be reserved for molars.

Dental crowns can also be made of composite resin, but this material is generally reserved for temporary crowns, as it is not sturdy or designed to last.

At AZ Dentist, we find that the best crown material is the one that restores your natural smile safely and comfortably for a long time. Because of this, we typically work with ceramic and zirconia crowns to provide you with a bright, beautiful smile for years to come.

Similar procedures that could help

Some patients think they will need a crown to treat discolored, chipped, or cracked teeth, but if the tooth remains healthy, it’s best to preserve it. Other similar procedures may create a bright smile while preserving your tooth. Three good options for cosmetically restoring healthy teeth are dental bonding, veneers, and caps.

Dental bonding uses composite resin matched to your other teeth to fix very minor imperfections in teeth (e.g., small chips or gaps, staining, or cracks). Veneers consist of a thin layer of porcelain or zirconia that is fixed to the front of the teeth for larger blemishes (i.e., cracks or larger gaps. Caps fit over the whole tooth to fix more challenging imperfections, like very misshapen or severely stained teeth that are healthy but do not respond to whitening treatments.

Learn more about dental crowns

There are many options when considering the different types of dental crowns that are available.

AZ Dentist is your Phoenix area family and cosmetic dentist, specializing in ceramic and zirconia crowns. Give us a call today for your most beautiful smile.