Dental crowns are useful for a number of reasons. They help patients fix discolored or misshapen teeth to improve their smiles, and they can also repair cracked or broken teeth.
A crown can be made from a variety of materials, but some are more durable than others. The most natural-looking crowns are made of porcelain or ceramic.
Porcelain crowns are made from tooth-coloured porcelain and aimed at blending in with natural teeth. They are ideal for reconstructing severely discoloured, broken or misshapen teeth and can also be used to protect a root canal treated tooth from breaking, to support large fillings and to cover fractured or discoloured root filled teeth.
To make a dental crown, your dentist will first take an impression of the area using a putty that holds the shape of the tooth or teeth (similar to how retainers work). The impression is then used as a mould to create a model of the tooth that will be used to make a ceramic replica of it.
A variety of different materials can be used to make dental crowns but porcelain is a popular choice because it looks and feels like your natural teeth. It is a translucent material that transmits light in the same way as your natural teeth and can be colour matched very well.
Other types of crowns include gold alloys and base metals which are used for strength. Base metals are less desirable because they can rust and have a tendency to break when compared with noble metals such as gold. However, they are cheaper to make and can be used in cases where there is little or no tooth structure to spare.
Porcelain Fused to Metal Crowns
Porcelain fused to metal crowns (PFM) combine the durability of metal with a porcelain veneer for a natural look. They are also very durable and can withstand biting and chewing forces. They are not as strong as all-porcelain crowns, but still an excellent choice for certain areas of the mouth.
They are often used for molars because they stand up well to the stress of grinding. They are very durable and can last for many years, but they do have some disadvantages. For example, a dark line can sometimes show near the gumline and they can be more noticeable than other types of crowns.
Zirconia is a stronger alternative to PFM crowns that offers great durability and a more lifelike appearance. It also allows for a lighter structure that can withstand more force and doesn’t require as much good tooth structure be removed. It’s also bio-compatible so it doesn’t irritate the gum tissue like other materials can.
Zirconia is more expensive than traditional crowns but is an excellent option for patients who want a strong and long-lasting restoration. It can be a little sensitive to extreme heat and may fracture more easily than a porcelain crown, but with the right care it can last for a long time. It can also be a good solution for patients who grind their teeth (bruxism) as it’s less likely to cause damage to other teeth.
Porcelain veneers are thin custom made shells or jackets bonded to the front of a tooth to create a brighter white surface, change a smile’s shape and even straighten crooked teeth. They have become a popular treatment choice for a variety of cosmetic dental issues due to their strength and durability, their resistance to staining (from coffee or tea, or cigarette smoking) and the way they reflect light, similar to natural tooth enamel.
During the consultation process, your dentist will discuss your smile goals and come up with a treatment plan. Next, they will prepare the tooth by grinding it down and creating an impression of the tooth. They will then send the impression to a lab to make your porcelain crown. In some cases, they may use a CAD/CAM machine to design your crown and make it right there in the office. They will also give you a temporary crown to wear while they wait for the permanent one to be completed in the laboratory.
Some dental practices also offer no-prep or minimal-prep veneers, which are less invasive and require less enamel removal. However, no-prep and minimal-prep veneers will still require preparation of the tooth, including an x-ray and etching, to ensure a strong bond with your natural teeth. During your follow up visit, the dentist will check the condition of your crown and make sure it fits comfortably and securely. They will also examine your bite and remove any excess cement, if needed.
As 3D printing continues to evolve, it has become increasingly popular in the dental industry. The technology is used to fabricate a variety of items, including crowns, bridge models, surgical guides, retainers and splints. Printed crowns can have advantages over milled crowns, such as high accuracy and material utilization.
The fabrication process is quick and simple, as well. The dentist takes digital impressions with a intraoral scanner, processes them in the software, and exports the CAD model as an STL file. The files are then imported into the 3D printer software, which slices the design into layers to print the crown. After a few hours in the printer, the crown is ready for use.
In addition to a shorter turnaround, there are also cost savings. Using traditional milling techniques, each crown requires a mold, heat, cooling and grinding to create the finished product, which can add up in terms of both time and materials. With digital workflows and 3D printing, the crown can be fabricated in a single appointment, saving the patient time, money and reducing stress.
In addition, dental crowns fabricated with 3D printer resins are designed to be durable and biocompatible. The resins are formulated to be tough enough to endure the biting forces and acidic environment of the mouth, ensuring long-lasting durability and minimal weak points that could lead to cracking or breakage.