Dentists are some of the pickiest people I know, and when it comes to selecting materials for your crowns, we can be even pickier! Nowadays, labs are creating ways to make things faster and less costly (because patients want things to be more affordable) however there can be inferior materials as well as inferior dental lab work, so it’s important your dentist works with someone she trusts. I personally always ask my lab to give me the best ceramic/gold/acrylic possible, regardless of costs, because longevity is my priority.
With a range of options available, it's essential to understand the differences in materials and their impact on longevity. Here are some different types of crowns we use in our practice:
- Porcelain Fused to Metal (PFM) Crowns: Porcelain fused to metal crowns have been a popular choice for their durability. The metal substructure provides strength, while the porcelain overlay offers a natural appearance. However, over time, the porcelain may wear down, resulting in a dull or greyish appearance. This type of crown is not as popular nowadays, as we have more durable and more esthetic options. However this is still a very decent material, and with proper nightguard use (for grinders) and excellent brushing and flossing, lifespan can be 10-15 years.
- All-Ceramic Crowns: All-ceramic crowns have gained significant popularity due to their exceptional aesthetics and biocompatibility. Made from materials like zirconia or lithium disilicate (aka Emax), they provide a lifelike translucency that closely resembles natural teeth. These crowns exhibit excellent resistance to wear and chipping, making them a durable option. With proper care, all-ceramic crowns can last 15 to 20 years or even longer. In fact when these crowns do need to be replaced, it’s likely due more to gradual root recession and cavity getting up under the crown (possibly due to improper flossing techniques), then from crown fracture. (so keep in mind, without proper brushing, flossing, and periodic x-rays, cavities can creep under any crown material and decrease the lifespan).
- Gold Crowns: Gold crowns have a long history of durability and reliability. In fact, I like to call them the “gold standard” of crowns. While their appearance may not be as natural-looking as ceramic options, gold crowns offer exceptional strength and resistance to corrosion. They require minimal tooth reduction, making them an excellent choice for preserving healthy tooth structure. With proper oral hygiene, gold crowns can last for more than 20 years. Gold is my favorite material for longevity, and I personally have gold in my mouth (and I’ve placed it in all of my family members mouths when they need inlays/onlays or crowns!).
Conclusion: Choosing the right dental crown material is crucial for achieving long-lasting results and maintaining a healthy smile. While each material has its own advantages, considering longevity is essential. All-ceramic / zirconia crowns have emerged as durable options, offering both aesthetics and strength. Gold crowns remain a reliable choice for long-term functionality. And most importantly, I choose amazing lab technicians to do high quality work so the fit is as close to your natural tooth as possible!