Types of dental crowns: which type is best for you and lasts more?

Types of dental crowns: which type is best for you and lasts more?

Chapter 2: Types of Dental Crowns

Welcome, you made it to chapter two of our dental crowns 101 guide! If you’re here you probably already read the first part about all the general details on dental crowns. Now, time to go a step more in-depth on the subject. We will talk about the types of dental crowns available for you to pick from, their lasting power, and their pros and cons. This will help you pick the best option for your personal needs and desires. Also, you will get a good idea of what’s available on the market and which types are permanent, temporary, or clip-on.

There are many types of dental crowns available these days giving plenty of options to dentists and patients. From all-porcelain crowns to the most advanced E-MAX, to the oldest gold crowns, there is a lot to choose from. They differ in cost, strength, aesthetics, and characteristics so you can choose the best type according to your priorities. 

In this article, we will share with you relevant information about different types of crowns so you can choose one that suits you the most:

Dental crown materials

Choosing the right types of dental crowns for you may seem difficult or complicated. There are so many types of dental crowns with pros, cons, lasting time you may get confused. The first step to understand is: what are your needs? Why are you getting a crown? Only when you answer – with the help of your dentist – these questions you may start thinking about the right types of dental crowns for you.

We will explain each type in detail in the next part. But for those of you who don’t have the time or energy to go through all those details, let’s have a quick look.

 StrengthAestheticsCost
All-porcelain (ceramic crowns)MediumHighHigh
Porcelain-fused-to-metal HighMediumMedium
ZirconiaMediumHigh Medium
E-MAXLow-mediumThe highestThe most expensive
Full Metal Medium-highLowestMedium
Composite ResinLow-mediumMediumMedium
A recap on types of dental crowns and their main characteristics.

So, if you have a damaged tooth and are looking for a strong material to cover it, It’s better to go for ceramic crownsZirconia, or porcelain-fused-to-metal. However, if you care about the price and need to choose something cost-effective, go for porcelain-fused-to-metal or zirconia. Finally, in case you want a prettier crown and are concerned about aesthetics, definitely go for zirconia.

See? It’s all about your needs and priorities. 

Ceramic Crowns (All Porcelain)

All Porcelain crowns are probably the most common and used type of dental crown. They’re extremely available, have a good lasting time and are not extremely expensive. They also are extremely natural-looking and translucent. This makes them one of the most requested types of dental crowns.

  • Strenght: If you’re looking for the strongest dental crown material, porcelain is not the one, even though its strenght is noticeable. If used in opposing teeth, in the case of grinding, there’s a chance of greater wear. 
  • Aesthetics: Most all-ceramic crowns are made of porcelain. Nowadays, all-porcelain dental crowns are one of the most popular types, especially among patients who have aesthetic priorities and are looking for something that gives their front teeth a beautiful, yet natural look.
  • Functionality: All-porcelain crowns are great to restore the structure of a damaged tooth. Particularly in cases of a root canal, with porcelain crowns, it is easier to build back the tooth’s lost structure. In cases of misshapen teeth as well as broken teeth, porcelain crowns can instantly transform the teeth. Porcelain has a high resistance to temperature changes. As a result, the possibility of further temperature sensitivity is reduced. 

Yet still, to choose all-ceramic crowns or not depends on your situation and obviously, your doctor’s suggestion. 

The fact that they’re entirely made of porcelain brings about some advantages and disadvantages: 

Advantages:

  • Long-lasting (can last for up to 15-20 years with proper dental care)
  • Stain-resistant
  • Natural-looking 
  • Biocompatible i.e. one does not have to worry about allergies
  • Fit is better as compared to other materials such as metals
  • Not high maintenance, i.e. you don’t have to make frequent dental visits

Disadvantages

  • Price can be slightly higher
  • Sensitivity can increase because of major tooth alterations
  • They can crack if you consume hard foods too much

Porcelain Fused-to-Metal Crowns

If you’re looking for a crown that boasts both aesthetics and strength, the porcelain-fused-to-metal is a good choice. Even if it’s not the most aesthetic option, it is one of the most resistant and has one of the best quality/price.

  • Strenght: The two main materials of this crown, porcelain, and metal, are both fairly strong when it comes to bearing a long time of wear and tear. On top of that, they’re more affordable compared to all-ceramic crowns. 
  • Aesthetic: As the name suggests, it has some of the benefits of metal crowns, alongside boasting most of the features of porcelain versions. The porcelain exterior adds up to its visual appeal. It can also be adjusted to match the color of the surrounding teeth and provide you with a natural smile. 
  • Functionality: Porcelain fused to metal crowns were first created in the late 1950s and then eventually became popular because of their aesthetic capabilities. However, over time it was discovered that they help restore the structure of the teeth because of metal alloys. This is the reason why they are now mostly suggested for severely damaged teeth to prevent further damage. They are also used as dental bridges in case someone has missing teeth. 

But we do not advise you to use for PFMs if you’re too sensitive about the appearance of your teeth. Despite the porcelain exterior, there is a metal part in the bottom of the crown, which may result in a grey line at your gum line. 

In the case of metal allergies, PFMs must be avoided. Also, a huge amount of your natural tooth structure is removed for installing a PFM crown, which some patients don’t find appealing. 

Advantages

  • They are good alternates to full porcelain and zirconia
  • Cost-effective
  • They are strong because of the use of metal
  • They are stain-resistant

Disadvantages:

  • They are not as sustainable as full porcelains
  • Less than favorable aesthetics due to the grey line that shows at the gums
  • Invasive procedure 

Zirconia Crowns

During the last two decades, zirconia crowns have gained popularity. According to Dentistry Today, they became popular in the 2000s when “CAD/CAM was introduced in the dental laboratory process.” After that, they became the apple of the eyes of restorative dentists as a much more affordable, yet effective replacement for expensive gold crowns. 

  • Strenght: According to several studies, the strength of zirconia crowns is 900-1200 MPa and fracture resistance strength of 9-10 mPa. These strength stats make zirconia crowns a lot tougher than the other materials. Their strength allows them to survive for up to 25 to 30 years with proper oral hygiene. 
  • Aesthetics: The traditional zirconia crowns are opaque in appearance and that makes them look not very natural. They are mostly considered for posterior (back) teeth because they provide more strength than aesthetic value. However, they are perfect if you want crowns that last very long without the need for much maintenance. 
  • Functionality: unlike PFMs, your dentist does not have to remove a big part of your natural tooth to place a zirconia crown. So, if the tooth underneath the crown is healthy, it will be preserved. Consequently, your overall dental health will be ensured. Due to their exceptional strength, they function more successfully when placed on the posterior teeth. 

Advantages:

  • Strongest among dental crowns
  • Highly shock-resistant
  • Stain-resistant
  • Temperature resistant 
  • Biocompatible
  • Easy to modify
  • Same-day placement

Disadvantages:

  • Less likely to blend with your real teeth because of its opaque appearance
  • Can wear down the enamel of surrounding teeth because of its exceptional strength
  • High price

Metal Crowns

Although the world has shifted to modern-day dental restorations but metal crowns are still readily available today. These crowns are available in palladium, gold, silver, nickel, or chromium. 

  • Strenght: Even though traditional, these crowns offer maximum protection to damaged teeth. They have fractural strength and are highly resistant to chipping or breaking. They can easily last for at least 15 years with a proper oral care routine. 
  • Aesthetics: If it comes to one thing that lacks in metal crowns it’s their aesthetics. Although they offer maximum protection to the teeth they look artificial and can be seen immediately. Therefore, if you are looking for a crown that improves your smile, this may not be the right choice. However, if dental health is your concern, these crowns can provide you with just that.
  • Functionality: Metal crowns can preserve and restore the health of a tooth because of high fractural strength. They tend to be better for the posterior teeth rather than anterior because of their artificial appearance. Therefore, they are a better choice for people with excessively damaged teeth and when their budget is limited.

Advantages:

  • Stronger and sturdier than other crown materials
  • Work better for people who suffer from bruxism
  • With proper dental hygiene they can last for at least 10 to 15 years or more
  • In case of extreme damage, they restore the health of the tooth
  • They are economical in terms of price

Disadvantages:

  • They look artificial
  • High fracture strength, i.e, they don’t chip easily
  • They can increase dental erosion in surrounding teeth because of high force bite
  • Frequent dental maintenance

E-MAX: Lithium Disilicate Crowns

As one of the latest inventions among dental crowns, E-max crowns are fast gaining popularity in the dental industry. They are now considered one of the most reliable CAD/CAM (digitally designed) crown materials.

  • Strenght: E-max crowns are made of lithium disilicate, a glass-ceramic molded into aesthetically pleasing dental crowns. According to a study, E-max crowns offer fractural strength of 500-530 when bonded. They serve as a great alternative to PFM crowns because they offer adequate strength, high esthetics, and same-day placement. 
  • Aesthetics: E-max crowns are known for their aesthetic qualities such as their translucency. They are made from all-glass ceramics allowing them to look refined and natural. Overall you can expect them to blend right in with your real teeth. 
  • Functionality: Since E-max crowns are created through CAD/CAM technology, their shape/size is much more accurate. This is why they not only look aesthetically pleasing but also protect the tooth from further damage. In terms of positioning, they are more suitable for anterior teeth because of superior esthetics. Due to relatively low fractural strength zirconia crowns are better for posterior teeth.  

Advantages:

  • Superior esthetics 
  • Same-day placement
  • Accuracy in design
  • Good fractural strength
  • Stain-resistant
  • Natural appearance

Disadvantages:

  • Prone to chipping 
  • Minimal tooth alterations

Composite Crowns

Readily available as temporary crowns, composite crowns are a lot more common than you think. Their procedure is much faster than other crowns this is why people opt for them for different reasons. 

  • Strenght: Composite crowns are mostly made of resin material which is inexpensive and does not need a long time for preparation. They provide medium strength and cannot last more than 5 years maximum. They tend to chip off or stain much faster than the other materials. 
  • Aesthetics: Composite resin does not provide the most realistic results. However, they are customizable and easy to produce so it is easy to achieve desirable results with the right dentist. 
  • Functionality: Resin is usually used for temporary dental concerns but it could be used as a permanent solution as well. They are mostly placed during the period when the patient is waiting for their final crown to arrive. They serve as filler crowns to save the tooth from any damage during this time. When they are placed permanently, dentists usually use them to protect the tooth after restorative dental procedures such as root canal. 

Advantages:

  • Low price 
  • Easily accessible
  • Single-day procedure
  • Easy to modify or replace
  • Conservative procedure

Disadvantages:

  • Not that strong
  • They stain or chip easily
  • Risk of mercury toxicity that could affect lungs and kidney

What Are Temporary Crowns? 

Preparing your permanent dental crowns requires time, you will see it in the third part of this guide. Until your crowns are ready your dentist will give you temporary crowns. It’s a type of crown the dentists prepare themselves without help from a lab. These temporary crowns will be lightly glued and will last you for one to two weeks. You will have temporary crowns just for the time between the two dentist appointments.

These temporary crowns are not as strong and aesthetics as your permanent ones. So, you need to practice some patients and take good care of them even if they don’t look perfect.

What are Onlay crowns and 3/4 crowns?

When we are discussing the types of dental crowns, it is important to understand certain mechanisms of crowning. A full crown is usually needed when the entire tooth is decayed and a considerable amount needs to be removed for placing the crown. On the contrary, dental onlays are crowns that are needed when the cavity has affected a slight portion of the tooth.

Similarly, 3/4 crowns also refer to crowns placed on the 3/4 area of your tooth. Dentists usually thoroughly examine your molars and premolars to determine the size of the crown needed. 

How to Choose the Right Type of Dental Crowns

Depending on whether you need a dental crown for your dental health or aesthetic purposes, the final decision on the type of your crown differs. For instance, if what you need is a natural appearance three main factors influence this decision:

  • Cost
  • Strength
  • Durability

Moreover, there are some other points that your dentist must consider when choosing your ideal treatment plan. For instance, if you need an aesthetic appearance and a natural smile, your needs are different from someone else who needs their teeth repaired.  

During this process, your dentist takes into consideration various items:  When selecting the material for your crown, your dentist will consider factors such as:

  • Color of the adjacent teeth
  • The location of your tooth
  • The function of your tooth (incisors, canines, premolars, molars
  • The proportion of your tooth that is seen when smiling
  • The position of your gum tissue
  • How much of your natural tooth should remain

More importantly, your dentist will listen to your preference, and then together, you will make a decision. In case you don’t have a dentist.

How Long Do Dental Crowns Last?

When you think “How long do crowns last?” you should know it depends on the materials they are made of. As opposed to limited options of simple ceramic dental crowns before, these days you can pick different types of crowns. However, the type of crown is not the only factor that determines how long it lasts. 

The life span of dental crowns also depends on your eating habits, oral hygiene, so on and so forth. You can control some of these factors and have healthy crowns for a long time to protect damaged teeth. There are different types of crowns available from ceramic crowns, porcelain crowns to composite resin and stainless steel crowns.

Lasting time of lithium disilicate crowns or E-MAX crowns

These are unique dental crowns made from lithium disilicate glass-ceramics. Studies suggest that these crowns are expected to last for almost 10 years. However, if you don’t take proper care, they will start wearing out after 3 to 5 years. They are considered to be the most reliable among ceramic crowns due to their translucency and aesthetic appeal.

E-MAX are an excellent choice to be used after common treatments such as root canal. They are also known as IPS E-max crowns in the market and they are considered to be relatively newer than the other varieties. 

Lasting time of porcelain fused metal crowns 

As one of the most popular crown types with a natural appearance, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are a good option for front teeth. The average life expectancy of these traditional crowns is 10 years, ranging from 5 to 15 years. They are made of half porcelain and half metal, which gives us a good level of durability and strength. Porcelain is used on the outside of the crown to make sure the color of the crown matches with the rest of the teeth. 

They are also considered to be relatively cheaper than zirconia or E-max. It is one of the most preferred porcelain crowns by dentists in the world. 

Lasting time of zirconia crowns

Made of zirconium dioxide, zirconia crowns are among the ones with the highest resistance to fracture. 

According to a study in 2016, monolithic zirconia crowns resist high bite forces and are least likely to split after enduring extreme forces. This high longevity is the main reason for their long life expectancy, which is about 10 to 25 years. Zirconia is considered to be an appropriate alternative to other dental crowns mainly because of its exceptional strength and resistance. They can withstand the hardest materials and survive for the longest time. 

Lasting time of gold crowns

Gold crowns are not that popular anymore due to their artificial appearance. Their life expectancy is estimated at more than 10 years. However, if kept in good condition, they might last for a few decades. Our oral hygiene habits and natural teeth condition determines how long can a gold crown last. 

Currently, if they are used, it is mostly for the molars and also combined with other metals such as palladium and nickel. It keeps the durability of the crown strong but brings down the cost. They are also considered to be among the cheaper options for a dental crown. 

Gold crowns are aesthetically not very pleasing which is why most dentists advise against them these days.  

How long do crowns last on front teeth

There is no specific time period for when a crown starts to deteriorate. In the same way, it usually doesn’t matter where in your teeth structure they are placed. However, it is predicted that the average lifespan of front teeth crowns is 15 to 20 years if they are taken care of properly.

Whether a dental crown is placed on the front teeth or the molars or premolars, the decay depends on one’s oral health habits. If you are someone who does not pay attention to their dental care, there are chances that your crown will decay faster than usual.

At the same time, dentists advise taking extra care with front teeth crowns. They may be a little more sensitive than the other teeth because we put a lot more force on them when we chew. Therefore, the damage could be bigger if we consume hard or chewy foods. 

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