Dental crowns are often an excellent way to repair a tooth that is either badly decayed or damaged to the extent that it can’t be repaired with a simple filling. A crown (also known as a “cap”) is a restoration that is custom-made to cover the entire surface of the tooth, right down to the gum line. If you’re wondering just how common dental crowns are for Austin, Texas area dental patients and people from throughout the country, we can tell you right upfront: not only are crowns popular, they are in fact one of the most commonly used types of dental restorations. It is estimated that about 15 million people in the US have crowns or other restorations that include crowns (such as dental implants and bridges, for example). In this article, we’ll explain more about dental crowns and why they are such a popular choice to restore teeth to full health and functionality.
What is a Dental Crown and How Is It Used?
There are several circumstances that might require installation of a crown. Those include:
- Protecting what is left of a tooth after decay is removed – As we mentioned above, sometimes a tooth is so badly decayed that a filling simply can’t do the job. In these instances, a crown is an excellent way to protect what is left of the tooth after the dentist removes the decay.
- Restoring a damaged tooth – When a tooth is cracked, chipped, broken or worn down, fitting a crown over the top of the damaged tooth can restore it to its full functionality.
- Protecting a tooth after a root canal – Many dentists prefer to add an additional measure of protection to a tooth that has undergone a root canal by installing a crown on top after the root canal is completed.
- Supporting a bridge – Patients who want to replace missing teeth may want to do that with a dental bridge. These appliances, which typically consist of one or more crowns mounted onto a metal frame with brackets on each end, require strong anchoring teeth on both sides. In these instances, crowns may be installed on the natural teeth located at each end of the device that act as support for the bridge, in addition to the crowns that comprise the bridge and replace the teeth that are missing.
- Improving the appearance of a tooth – Sometimes one unattractive tooth can ruin a person’s smile. One way to resolve this problem is by covering the tooth with a crown.
Types of Crowns
Dental crowns can be made from a variety of different materials. Choosing which type of crown is best for you will be a decision that you make along with your dentist, and generally depends on the location of the tooth that needs the crown. What follows are brief descriptions of the different types of crowns available.
- Metal crowns – The strongest and most durable type of crown are those made from a combination of various metals, include gold, silver, palladium, platinum, cobalt and chromium. Metal crowns are most often used on molars that are located in the back of the mouth. These teeth aren’t typically visible when a person smiles, which means that a metal crown would not be noticeable. And the molars located in the back of the mouth are the teeth that bear the brunt of chewing, so they would benefit the most from the strength of a metal prosthetic.
- Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns – Also referred to as “PFM crowns,” porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns provide not only the strength of metal, but also the aesthetically pleasing appearance of the dental porcelain that covers the metal base. This type of crown is often used on top of dental implants, as replacement teeth in dental bridges, and to restore and protect damaged teeth.
- All-ceramic or all-porcelain crowns – These restorations don’t provide the strength and durability of metal and metal-based crowns, but they are considered to be the most attractive of all types of crowns. For that reason, they are often used on teeth located in the front of a patient’s mouth that are visible when the person smiles. All-ceramic and all-porcelain crowns are also typically used in cosmetic dentistry to improve the appearance of a misshaped or badly stained tooth.
- Composite resin crowns – Although crowns made from composite resin aren’t the strongest, they do offer some benefits: the resin material can be made to very closely match the patient’s natural tooth shade; resin crowns may be a good option for people with metal allergies; and composite resin crowns are typically less expensive than other types.
- Zirconia crowns – One increasingly popular type of dental crown is made from zirconium dioxide. This material creates an extremely strong and durable crown, which makes them an excellent choice for molars located in the back of the mouth that require strong restorations. Zirconia crowns also require less preparation of the natural tooth, which makes them somewhat less time consuming for the dentist performing the procedure.
It’s easy to see why dental crowns have been used for so many years by dentists from throughout the Austin, Texas area and all across the US. Not only can these devices be used for a variety of different purposes, they are also strong enough to last for many years. To find out more about how common dental crowns are, and to see if a crown is the right choice for you, schedule an appointment with your dentist today.