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The 3 Best Materials For A Dental Crown In Houston, TX

If you need a dental crown, you want to ensure it’s the best material possible for your smile’s needs.

By Jennifer
Photography by Pete

featured image

Tooth decay, teeth grinding, dental accidents, and unhealthy eating habits can all weaken your smile and leave it vulnerable to cavities, fractures, and breaks. While a simple dental filling can usually fix minor dental damage, more significant decay and breaks may require a dental crown. What is a dental crown? Dental crowns are full-tooth restorations that repair a tooth against severe cavities, dental impacts, and injuries. They’re also often used when replacing missing teeth, either bookending a dental bridge or capping a dental implant.

During this procedure, the tooth’s outer enamel and any decayed or damaged tissues are removed to make room for the crown. With a good tooth crown in place, it can help protect your tooth against further damage, keeping your smile whole and intact for years and even decades. How well it does this depends on your lifestyle and habits and the type of dental crown you choose. Some of the most common materials used in permanent crowns include:

  • Base metals
  • Resin
  • All-porcelain
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal
  • Ceramic
  • Gold
  • Zirconia

There’s no such thing as the “best dental crown.” Everyone has their individual smile and dental needs. When deciding the best dental crown material for you, you must take several factors into account and answer these questions: What type of tooth are you restoring? How long do crowns last? How much do they cost? How strong and durable are they? How natural do they look? And most importantly, which of these factors are truly important to you?

Still, while there may not be an uncontested #1 dental crown, some are better than others in general. The top 3 dental crowns are gold, all-porcelain, and porcelain-fused-to-metal.

Gold Crowns

It may surprise you that one of the most reliable crowns is a gold dental crown. Many crowns are made of a mix of several metals, including palladium, nickel, and chromium. However, gold crowns are the best of the best when it comes to metal crowns. Gold has been a staple in restorative dentistry for more than 4,000 years, and there’s a reason it has lasted so long. These days, gold crowns are combined with several other metals to help increase their strength and reduce overall cost.

Gold crowns’ noticeable appearance makes them easy to spot, so they are generally reserved for out-of-sight back teeth. However, metal crowns are the least likely to crack, chip, or break, whether from daily eating and chewing to impacts and accidents. This also makes them great for molars, which must survive the full force of your bite every day. Gold crowns also require less tooth reshaping to fit them.

Gold is one of the longest-lasting crown materials. How long do gold crowns last? They can easily last several decades, with some patients keeping theirs in excellent condition for as many as 50 years to a lifetime. Unlike other types of metal crowns, gold wears down at the same rate that natural enamel would. They do little to no harm to the teeth they bite against, which can sometimes be an issue with particularly strong materials.

All-Porcelain Crowns

Another popular dental crown material is porcelain, which mixes aesthetics and durability. All-porcelain crowns can be designed to blend in with your natural smile, making them one of the best choices for front teeth. This is a significant advantage over metal crowns. Unlike even other tooth-colored crowns, all-porcelain crowns allow for the most realistic match to natural teeth. Our dentists can take the most cosmetic approach with all-porcelain, even taking into account how enamel is semi-transparent.

Do porcelain crowns stain? While they may be partially translucent, all-porcelain crowns are highly stain-resistant. Coffee, red wine, chocolates, and berries might make a mark on natural tooth enamel, but all-porcelain crowns are incredible at keeping their same appearance. Additionally, since no metal is involved, all-porcelain crowns are great for patients with metal allergies.

However, all-porcelain crowns have some drawbacks. While they are quite sturdy and can withstand the full force of your bite, they can potentially crack or chip under enough pressure, unlike gold and other metal crowns. For this reason, they’re not the best option for patients with a bad habit of grinding and clenching their teeth at night, especially with back teeth. In these cases, we may recommend metal or gold crowns instead. All-porcelain crowns are also more expensive, even above gold and porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns.

Porcelain-Fused-To-Metal Crowns

Like all-porcelain, porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns are designed to match its neighboring teeth and blend in with your natural smile. With PFM, a metal base below the porcelain helps further reinforce and stabilize the crown. This sturdy foundation gives patients the perfect compromise between metal and all-porcelain crowns. While a thin ring of metal is left exposed at the crown’s base, this is usually covered by the gums unless there is gum recession, like with periodontal disease.

How long do porcelain crowns last? On average, porcelain crowns last between 5 and 15 years. With good care, some patients can have theirs last up to 20 or 25 years. A porcelain dental crown’s exact lifespan depends on your dental hygiene, lifestyle habits (teeth grinding, diet, etc.), and the problem tooth’s location. While modern-day porcelain crowns can withstand the full force of your bite easily, they are more likely to crack or chip under stress for molars rather than front teeth.

Permanent vs Temporary Crowns

While lesser restorative treatments like a tooth filling can be completed in a single visit, the same usually isn’t true with dental crowns. The dental crown procedure typically takes two visits to finish, whether you choose gold, porcelain, or other material. Your dentist will need to prepare a temporary crown to last until a more permanent one is made. Once the permanent crown is ready, we can replace your temporary crown with it.

Temporary Crown

Since temporary crowns aren’t needed to last for years and decades like permanent ones, the materials used don’t need to be as strong or durable. Most temporary crowns are made from either acrylic-based materials or stainless steel, making them very affordable. Your temporary crown is placed during your first visit after the decay is removed and the tooth is reshaped to fit it. You only need an interim crown that can stay bonded to your tooth for a few weeks at most, so we use a relatively weak temporary cement.

After our dentists have your permanent crown prepared, you’ll come in for a second appointment for us to replace your temporary one with it. In the meantime, you’ll need to be relatively careful with the foods you eat and be cautious of any nighttime teeth grinding you may have. You don’t want to accidentally pop off your temporary crown before your permanent one is ready.

Permanent Crown

As already mentioned, permanent crowns are the final crowns that replace your temporary ones. They are made of the better and sturdier porcelain, metal, gold, and more that allow your dental crown to last years and even decades. It usually takes a week or two for them to be made. Once they’re ready to be placed, our dentists will use a stronger bonding cement to ensure the cap on your tooth is secure and won’t go anywhere. We’ll also make any necessary adjustments so that your crown’s bite is just as seamless and natural as the original enamel. Depending on the materials used, your permanent crown can stay in excellent condition for anywhere between five years to a lifetime.

How Much Does A Crown Cost?

Generally, your dental crown cost will depend on several factors: the type of crown, the complexity of your tooth’s damage, and whether dental sedation is used. Some patients may also need their crown as the final part of another dental procedure, such as a root canal, dental bridge, or dental implants. All-porcelain crowns’ natural, metal-free look makes them a bit more costly per tooth, while metal crowns are the most affordable. Porcelain-fused metal crowns land in the middle, giving you a blend of both affordability and aesthetics.

Dental crowns are usually covered by dental insurance, including when they’re part of a dental bridge. However, dental implants are not part of most plans, but some full-coverage plans will provide part of the cost of the implant’s crown. At Nu Dentistry, we also have several financing options, both in-house and out, to help make the rest of your dental crown cost affordable. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to give our office a call.

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