Dental crowns, those tooth shaped restorations that have been used in human dentistry for nearly 2600 years, are a versatile tool in the restorative and cosmetic dentist’s toolkit. From ancient times until early in the 20th century, people who needed a tooth crowned had to opt for an alloy of gold or another malleable metal. Although metal crowns last for a long time and will not damage the surrounding teeth, they are highly conspicuous. Modern patients and dentists prefer realistic esthetics and overwhelmingly opt for porcelain crowns. At our Lake Forest IL practice, Dr. James Fondriest places several different types of porcelain crowns, each with advantages for different patients.
Different Types of Porcelain Dental Crowns
Dental crowns have uses across the restorative and cosmetic dentistry practice, including reinforcing a cracked or broken tooth, masking a severely stained or misshapen tooth, or to top a dental implant. Dr. Fondriest offers three general types of porcelain crowns:
- All porcelain crowns. As the name suggests, all porcelain crowns are made from 100% dental ceramic. However, the way that the ceramist (a highly trained dental lab technician who concentrates of porcelain restorations) fabricates the crown will influence its strength and esthetics. Some crowns are milled from solid blocks of porcelain, while others have sturdy pressed cores overlain with layers of delicate, reflective feldspathic porcelain. Dr. Fondriest provides several brands of all porcelain crowns, including E Max, Empress, and Procera.
- Zirconia crowns. This type of dental porcelain contains zirconium oxide, a non-metallic substance that renders it virtually unbreakable. This extremely strong type of dental crown resists chips, breaks, and stains. Zirconia can be color matched to your teeth but it’s somewhat opaque, meaning that all zirconia crowns are better placed in the back of the mouth. Zirconia crowns can be covered with layers of regular dental porcelain, to give them the realistic translucence needed for anterior crowns (front of the mouth).
- Porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns. This type of crown blends a metal substructure with a layered porcelain outer structure, for a combination that blends realistic esthetics with a high degree of durability. Some patients may be wary of PFM crowns because as the wearer ages and the gums begin to recede, a signature blackish metal rim often shows at the base of the crown. Dr. Fondriest can actually place a special porcelain collar to disguise the conspicuous metal ring.
Which Crown is Best for You?
The type of crown that’s right for you will depend on several factors, including where the crown will be placed along your dental arch, the condition being addressed, and your unique lifestyle and budgetary needs. For instance, all porcelain crowns offer the very best esthetics, since the material used to make them contains silica, which reflects light in much the same way as natural tooth enamel. However, all porcelain crowns can chip, fracture, and accumulate stains over time or if they’re exposed to excessive force or stress. In addition, certain types of porcelain crowns, like those made from feldspathic ceramic, require the skills of a master ceramist and are a higher end choice.
Zirconia crowns, on the other hand, are exceptionally hard and strong. In fact, they are so strong that they have been known to cause damage to the opposing natural teeth. Therefore, zirconia crowns are not a good choice for people who habitually grind their teeth or clench their jaws, because they can create excessive wear on neighboring enamel. For the most part, Dr. Fondriest prefers to place zirconia crowns in the back of the mouth where the restoration will have to endure more force and regular use than the front teeth.
PFM crowns work well in both the front and back of the mouth. Their sturdy metal core promises a secure fit and a long-lasting restoration while the porcelain outer layer will help your smile look healthy and whole for years (with proper care). However, PFM crowns are inappropriate for people with sensitivities or allergies to metal who may benefit more from a zirconia crown.
Why Visit a Dental Crown Expert?
With so many choices when it comes to porcelain crowns, it’s good to have the help of an extensively trained and highly experienced restorative dentist like Dr. Fondriest. He has received thousands of hours of continuing education in prosthodontics, the specialized study of dental prosthetics. He has also published hundreds of articles and book chapters on different aspects of creating beautiful, long-lasting dental crowns in diverse peer-reviewed publications. Finally, he partners with Matt Roberts, CDT, a world-class ceramist to fabricate the custom-designed dental crowns he places for his patients.
If you live in the Lake Forest IL area and want to talk to Dr. Fondriest about which type of porcelain crown will work best for your needs, contact our 60045 dentist office at (847) 234-0517. We proudly welcome patients from all the Chicago area and surrounding cities.