Strictly speaking, a dental crown aims towards conserving (rather than replacing) teeth. It tends to be applied whenever the natural crown, meaning the visible part of the tooth, is damaged. The artificial crown is then placed upon the damaged tooth like a cover and thus serves as a protection shield against harmful effects from the outside.
The damage to a natural tooth can have several different causes. Usually, tooth decay has occurred, however, an accident or wear and tear caused by chewing can also be responsible for having to affix a dental crown. Esthetic considerations or developmental disorders may also be reasons for having to replace a natural crown.
Making use of local anesthesia, the consisting tooth must be sanded down, thus losing a significant part of the natural tooth substance. Based on the molding performed during the next step, an artificial crown is produced in the dental lab. In the meantime, the patient needs to use a temporary crown made up of synthetic material.
Zircon crowns are all-ceramic crowns with a core made of zirconium oxide. Zircon has been in use in the field of dentistry since the 1990s and offers multiple advantages: For starters, the material is utterly hard, break-resistant, and extremely long-lasting. Due to the fact that it is entirely metal-free, it commands a high level of biocompatibility and, last but not least, it provides the best esthetic effect: Thanks to the white core and transparent ceramic veneering, even experts can hardly distinguish zircon crowns from natural teeth. Based on all of these advantages, zircon is occasionally referred to as the “white gold“ in terms of tooth replacement. Its only disadvantage is the price: Zircon crowns tend to be more costly than other materials.
Compared to zircon crowns, all-ceramic crowns are somewhat less expensive and consist entirely of ceramic. They are similarly break-resistant and resist maximum loads for a very long time. Ceramic is also metal-free and thus fully compatible for patients suffering from allergies. In visual terms, all-ceramic crowns are amazingly similar to natural teeth, which is why they are particularly suitable for the front area. From medical and esthetic perspectives, there are good reasons to decide in favor of crowns consisting of ceramic, however, these tend to be on the expensive side as well. Patients frequently crunching with their teeth should definitely consult their dentist in this regard.
Metal crowns have multiple synonyms: All-cast crown, full crown, or all-metal crown constitute frequently used names, and in vernacular, the gold crown is a particularly well-known type of metal crown. Other metals such as steel or titanium can be employed as well. Due to their high level of stability, metal crowns are particularly suitable for use in the area of the strained rear molars. Their prices tend to be moderate, obviously depending upon the specific materials they consist of.
Veneer / “PFM” Crown
In essence, the so-called “Porcelain Fused to Metal“ (PFM) crown is a metal framework coated with ceramic and thus veneered. One of the disadvantages to this solution is the fact that more tooth substance needs to be removed. On the plus side, the visual appearance is notable: The ceramic coating can be aligned closely to the natural tooth color, thus suggesting the insertion of the veneer crown in more visible areas. Compatibility, quality, and therefore the price of PFM crowns all strongly depend on the processing materials. All things considered, veneer / PFM crowns offer a wide range of advantages, which is why their use has steadily increased over the last few years.
For the period of time during which the natural tooth has already been ground but the final denture has not yet been completed, a custom-made temporary crown consisting of synthetic material is usually applied. The manufacturing of a dental crown can take some days or even weeks; during this time, the tooth must be protected against heat and cold as well as influences connected to food intake. However, apart from the low price, there are hardly any good reasons to decide in favor of permanent dentures consisting of synthetic material, which is why dentists tend to discourage their patients from using these. Synthetic crowns can give rise to allergic reactions, do not last for a very long time and are thus applied less and less.