Your dentist may prescribe a crown, often called a “cap”, for various reasons. Generally, a crown replaces decayed or broken tooth structure to restore the form and function of the tooth. Then you are hit with a smathering of choices—PFM, gold, ceramic, zirconia… yada, yada, yada.
Let us explore the common materials…
High nobel gold crowns are, afterall, the “gold standard”. These metals have al least 60% gold with some other metals mixred in for workability. Gold is biocompatible, strong, kind to the opposing teeth, and can wear well even if thin. The dentist can be very conservative with the amount of tooth structure removed. But, the downfall in our esthetic driven culture is that it is visible.
“PFM” OR PORCELAIN-FUSED-TO-GOLD
Here, the understructure of the crown (the coping) is gold with porcelain baked over it to make the crown tooth colored. Even if the porcelain breaks, the metal underneath protects the tooth.
Zirconia is actually a sintered metal but is white in appearance! It is very strong and makes a great understructure for dental bridges. For this material to work, the dentist must reduce the tooth enough to achieve a two millimeter material thickness.
The evolution of pressed ceramics has revolutionized the esthetic capabilities of crowns. The ultra-dense material is strong enough for molar crowns and esthetic enough to create the smile you have always wanted. The crown is milled from a block of material and then can be finished with stains for a very realistic look.
WORD OF CAUTION
Those margaritas south of the border may prompt you to get your crowns On a dental vacay. Many countries do not regulate the materials used. I have had people come back with a mouth full of porcelain fused to a BASE METAL crowns. Base metals often have NICKLE in them (a high allergen) and BERYLLIUM (an aerosole carcinogen). The end result is greenish-blue swollen itchy gums. *YUCK*