Dental crowns, often called caps, are used to surround and support a tooth too severely damaged from decay, cracks, or trauma to repair with a conventional filling or bonded restoration. They work much like a thimble protects your finger from a needle. Crowns protect the tooth by covering the complete chewing surface, evenly distributing the chewing forces throughout the remaining tooth structure. At one time the only option to restore a failing tooth was a cast gold crown, but there are now many options. The types we use most often are described below.
Beautiful and durable, these one-appointment all-porcelain crowns are made at our Grandville office in our CAD/CAM machine. Northway Family Dentistry introduced this technology to West Michigan in 1998 and has successfully done thousands since then. Amazingly, a new porcelain, called eMax, was introduced in 2009 and is now even twice as strong. The research and our experiences so far are phenomenal. To learn more, check out our CEREC Crowns page.
Like CEREC, all-porcelain crowns are bonded in place and look very natural. Because they are custom-made and shade-matched, like veneers, by our world-class ceramist Sandy, they are ideal in the front teeth where esthetics is of prime importance.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal Crowns (PFM)
PFM crowns have a porcelain exterior supported by an underlying metal substructure, giving them a much greater strength than porcelain alone. These are frequently a good choice for back teeth. Because Sandy can match these to your smile so well, we still use them in the front when the need for strength demands it. They often leave a slightly dark gum line due to a shadow cast by the metal.
These crowns have been getting a lot of press lately, mostly because of the trend to eliminate metal from all restorations. Instead of gold supporting the porcelain, zirconia crowns use the strongest porcelain available today as a substructure. Then, a cosmetic layer of porcelain is veneered over, just like in PFMs. Unfortunately, studies have shown that it takes less than 25 percent of the force to break these than it does to break our new eMax CEREC porcelain crowns. Check out these studies if you are interested in more:
Truly the gold standard, gold crowns are far and away the strongest because they have no porcelain (glass) to chip. While esthetics is a concern for some, they are still the best option on the back teeth for people with heavy bite problems, especially those who grind or clench.