Types of Crown Materials and How to Choose the Best Type

What dental crown material is the best fit for you

Why are there different types of dental crown materials?

Dental crowns are a very popular and commonly performed dentistry restoration. They are versatile, beautiful, and do a fantastic job of preserving oral health by protecting teeth. If you haven’t had a crown before, you might be surprised to find that there are a number of different types available. Your dentist will discuss crown material types with you before your procedure, so here’s what you should know about dental crowns, the materials they can be made of, and which one is right for your smile.

What is a dental crown and how does it work?

Dental crowns are a form of restorative dentistry that covers a tooth with a protective barrier. The crown sits directly over the natural tooth and becomes the new “tooth” that you see when you smile.

Dentists often recommend a dental crown for two reasons:

  1. If a tooth has lost structural stability from tooth decay or damage, but can still be saved, a dental crown will be used to add back strength and beauty.
  2. If a tooth needs a root canal to put an end to a toothache, a dental crown will be placed afterward to protect the now hollow natural tooth.

Dental crowns can also be a cosmetic dental enhancement to cover a chipped or discolored tooth.

What materials can a dental crown be made from?

The material of a dental crown affects its appearance and longevity. By having access to a variety of options, dentists are able to select the ideal material for each client based on their needs as well as their budget. These are the 5 most commonly used dental crown materials.

1. Metal

In decades past, metal crowns were the only option. Thankfully we’ve come a long way since then as most patients would rather have a realistic, tooth-colored crown. However, sometimes a metal dental crown may still be used.

If a patient specifically requests a metal dental crown, such as gold or silver, most dentists will be able to comply. The more common use for metal dental crowns is in pediatric dentistry. A stainless steel crown may be used on a child’s baby molars to protect the tooth until it naturally falls out.

2. Ceramic

Ceramic crowns are very popular! They are the classic tooth-colored crown option and are readily available in most dental practices. Sometimes ceramic crowns are lab-made, meaning they are created by a dental lab, but thanks to CEREC technology, same day ceramic crowns are available at many dental offices—including Staley Dental!

Ceramic crowns are affordable, but by no means “cheap” in quality. They are very durable, long-lasting, and allow for a very precise color match to your smile.

3. Porcelain

Porcelain crowns are equally as popular as ceramic, and our favorite option for picture-perfect dental crowns. Porcelain dental crowns are also tooth-colored, and at a first glance may look deceptively similar to ceramic crowns. After all, porcelain is a type of ceramic. The difference is the quality and translucency of the porcelain ceramic.

Porcelain dental crowns are even more realistic and detailed than ceramic crowns. The porcelain material’s natural opacity and translucent sheen looks just like natural tooth enamel, which is why this material is favored for restorative and cosmetic dentistry crowns, veneers, and bridges.

4. PFM

Between metal crowns and all-porcelain crowns is PFM or porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. You can think of these like a metal crown with a thin porcelain shell. These were used before dentists were able to offer all-porcelain crowns to patients.

Though they are still used, they are no longer as common as they often leave a characteristic gray line at the gums where the metal layer underneath peeks through.

5. Zirconia

Zirconia is the newest option in dental crown materials. Similar to porcelain, zirconia is another ceramic-based material that is considered in a category of its own. Zirconia crowns are made from zirconium dioxide and are milled from a single-piece block.

They are exceptionally durable and quite beautiful. However, they tend to also be more on the pricey side and not all dentists offer them at the moment.

Which type of dental crown should I choose?

There are a lot of factors that can impact which dental crown is best for your smile, including your budget, your desired look, and the strength of the tooth that needs treatment.

At Staley Dental, Dr. Staley has chosen CEREC ceramic crowns and porcelain crowns as the two best options for his patient base. The same day CEREC crowns are perfect for quickly fixing damaged teeth in one appointment, saving the patient time in the dentist’s chair. They maintain their durability and Dr. Staley will pay special attention to achieving the best color match possible.

Porcelain crowns are perfect for patients who are comfortable waiting about two weeks for their permanent crown while it is crafted in a lab. Our porcelain crowns are artistically designed, very strong, and look just like natural teeth.

Find the best dental crown for your smile with the help of Dr. Staley.

If you believe your tooth is in need of a protective dental crown, it’s time to see Dr. Staley for a consultation! You can book a visit by calling our Boise, ID office or using this online form.