Used to protect a tooth that is broken or decayed, a dental crown is a type of restoration that has been around for many years. With advances in modern dentistry, there are more materials used for this restoration than ever. When a dentist recommends this treatment, the patient may wonder what material is recommended. There are several considerations, and each patient's situation is unique.
When it is deemed necessary to crown, or cap, a tooth, the aesthetics and function of a selected crown material must be considered. The patient and dentist should discuss why a certain material is chosen and how it can improve the patient's oral health.
Cosmetic dentistry has gained popularity in recent years, and many patients desire natural-looking restorations. Porcelain and ceramic crowns can be made to match the patient's other teeth. In some cases, this type of dental crown looks so natural that it is difficult to distinguish between it and the natural teeth.
Decayed front teeth often need these cosmetic restorations, and because the front teeth do not use as much biting force, materials without metal are often suitable. However, some patients may choose to have gold restorations for aesthetic reasons. Patients should thoroughly discuss their wants and needs with the dentist.
All-porcelain or all-ceramic restorations usually work well for the front teeth, but pressure on the back teeth may cause these restorations to crack over time. This is not always the case, though, and these materials may still be used in some situations.
Alternatively, there are metal crowns that are coated with porcelain. These are called porcelain-fused-to metal crowns or PFMs. This type of restoration provides the durability of metal while still allowing for a tooth-colored crown. This type can also be used on the front teeth if the patient has a heavy bite and can still be matched to the patient's other teeth.
Prefabricated metal crowns tend to be a more economic option. These can be used when patients are not prepared for the price of a custom-made dental crown and need to save for a little while. However, it is important to note that a premade crown does not provide as secure of a fit as a custom one, so bacteria can get under the crown and cause further destruction over time.
Crowns can be a worthy investment for many patients. When the right material is chosen, the restoration can often last for many years. It is important, though, that a patient is careful to maintain any restoration that is placed. This includes good daily hygiene habits and regular dental visits. Routine X-rays can help a dentist detect problems around a crown while they are in the early stages. When there is a joint effort between the dentist and patient to use the right material and maintain it, a patient can keep a healthy smile.
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