Types of dental crowns and cost
It’s all about selecting the right material for your tooth
At Sensational Smiles, we believe in using the highest quality material around, and that’s why we generally use porcelain. There are, however, many different materials available. The pros and cons are listed below.
Zirconia – strength rating 1200 MPA
This is generally our go-to material for crowns. It’s a white metal that looks like porcelain. There is no greyness in it. The advantages are that’s it’s very strong and aesthetically pleasing. Because it’s strong, you can make it very thin (around 1 mm thickness in places where it’s loaded under biting pressure and 0.3 mm elsewhere). This means you save more of your natural tooth structure. The two major drawbacks to zirconia are that it doesn’t bond to the tooth, so you always need full coverage crowns, and it can be slightly on the opaque side. If you need a full coverage crown on a back tooth, then it’s a no brainer – zirconia will be the choice.
Emax Porcelain – strength rating 200MPA
This is another fantastic solution and a favourite of ours. It looks stunning and very life-like. It’s one of the strongest pressed porcelains around. The strength and aesthetics of it make it ideal for all onlays and veneers. You can bond to it unlike zirconia, and it looks very natural.
To combine the two best materials, we sometimes make the middle part (the core) out of zirconia and then layer it with emax porcelain to bring out the beauty in the restoration.
Metal-Ceramic Crowns (PFM)
These are traditional crowns and it surprises me that people still use this material. The first problem with it is that you have two materials joined together. Back in the day, there was no strong porcelain, so you had to have metal as the core to provide strength and support and then you layered it with porcelain to make it the colour of a tooth. The problem with using two materials is two-fold. Firstly, each material needs a minimum thickness for strength.
The metal part is 0.5 mm and the porcelain is 1.5-2 mm, which makes a total of 2 mm+. Now, if you think of zirconia where you can have it at 0.3 mm, that means you get to keep 1.7 mm of tooth structure all the way around your tooth! It’s a mystery why a lot of dentists still use old school methods – the problem is they simply do not understand new techniques and materials!
The second problem is that it just doesn’t look good. If you look at a natural tooth, it’s slightly translucent, which means light shines through it nicely. When you use PFM crowns, the light shines through the porcelain and then hits a wall at the metal margin, which makes the crowns look dull and unnatural. This is even more apparent in photographs.
The last problem is that you can’t make onlays out of them and if possible, onlays are our go-to treatment option (see more below).
The good thing about metal is that it’s strong, but the major drawback is that the colour is horrible. That’s why we generally do not use it anymore. The only time we use it is when making gold crowns (if the patient specifically requests it).