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Millions of people in the United States and around the world have dental crowns to replace a missing tooth or strengthen a weakened tooth. The dental crown is composed of a material applied to the part of the tooth that is above the gum line and that serves as protection and support for the tooth.

Types of materials used in dental crowns. Four types of material are used for dental crowns:

1. Ceramic (porcelain)
2. Metal-ceramic
3. Gold alloys
4. Base metal alloys

Ceramic crowns

Ceramic crowns are made of porcelain-based material, recommended for tooth restoration due to the color, which resembles that of natural teeth. The dentist may need to remove a bit more of the tooth structure for porcelain application. The material can be brittle (in the case of very strong bites), but it is highly resistant to wear.

Porcelain fused to metal crowns

In metal-ceramic crowns, fused porcelain is bonded to the outside of the metal framework to strengthen the teeth, serve as a seal, and prevent the recurrence of cavities. When porcelain is fused to metal, it provides a stronger restoration than porcelain alone. The dentist removes only a moderate amount of tooth structure. Metal-ceramic crowns are strong and durable.

Gold Alloys crowns

Gold alloys are made from gold with copper and other metals and are a strong material that bonds to the tooth structure. Gold alloys are strong at wear and tear and do not harm opposing teeth with which they come into contact. This material is biologically compatible with gingival tissue.

Base metal alloys crowns

Base metal alloys contain metals that are not noble, but which provide strong crown and tooth strength and high corrosion resistance. In arranging the tooth for these crowns, the dentist removes very little of the healthy tooth structure. This material is strong against wear and soft relative to opposing teeth.

New technology for dental crowns

CAD/CAM technology is the technology of computer-aided design and manufacturing. This technology is used to help dentists and prosthetic lab technicians create precise shapes and sizes for dental restorations, including inlays (also called inlays*), partial crowns (also called Onlays*), crowns, and bridges.

The three-dimensional image of your teeth and gums allows the dentist or dental technician to create the precise design of the restoration or crown. It is an expensive technology and not all dentists use it in their offices. However, CAD/CAM technology is extremely advanced and can reduce consultation time.

Who needs a dental crown?

To recommend a dental crown, the dentist is based on the following factors that may occur in the patient’s mouth: fracture of a tooth, tooth wear and poor strength of the enamel structure, missing tooth, need for a bridge, need to improve the appearance of the mouth at the end of endodontic treatment and the need to cover a dental implant.

What are the next steps?

If your dentist recommends the placement of a dental crown, talk to him about the materials that can be used. Ask about how long the procedure will take and what you need to do to make the procedure successful.

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