Dental crowns have been around for many years. These handy dental appliances are an excellent way to save a tooth that cannot be repaired with a simple filling, or to protect a tooth that has undergone a root canal procedure. Most dentists offer their patients three types of crowns – those made from metal, those made from porcelain, and those made from a combination of the two materials. Choosing the best crown for you will depend on many factors.

METAL CROWNS

Gold crowns are often an excellent choice for a tooth that is not visible when you smile. Gold is the strongest, most durable of all dental materials available. Crowns made out of this material won’t crack or break, and they also won’t wear down other natural teeth that they come into contact with. Because of these advantages, metal crowns are often an excellent choice for molars and bicuspids – teeth that endure a great deal of chewing and generally need to be stronger than front teeth.

PORCELAIN CROWNS

Many patients prefer porcelain crowns for teeth that are visible when they smile. The most obvious advantage of porcelain in these circumstances is that it can be made to very closely match the shade of the patient’s natural teeth, so the crown is barely noticeable when the patient smiles. Porcelain is also extremely durable, although it’s no match for the strength of a gold crown. Because porcelain is an attractive choice, but not quite as strong as metal, these crowns are an excellent choice for upper teeth located in the front of the mouth. These teeth are not relied upon so much for chewing as back molars and bicuspids.

PORCELAIN-FUSED-TO-METAL (PFM) CROWNS

These crowns offer patients the best of both worlds – a porcelain material fused onto a metal crown. They provide the strength of a metal base with the attractive appearance of porcelain. Dentists often recommend PFM crowns for patients who want their crowns to look as natural as possible, even though they’re located in the back of the mouth. PFM crowns are much less obvious than metal crowns, but they’re not quite as strong as an all-metal crown, and it is possible for the porcelain cover of the crown to crack. Another disadvantage of the PFM crown occurs if the patient’s gum line begins to recede and the metal edge of the crown becomes visible.

PRESSED-TO-METAL (PTM) CROWNS

Although not widely used, some dentists now offer their patients the option of PTM crowns. Although similar to PFM crowns, these appliances are made of a porcelain material that is generally stronger than that used for PFM crowns, possibly making them more durable.
To find out more about the different types of metal and porcelain crowns available, talk to your dentist. He or she can provide more information and help you decide which choice is best for you.