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Dental Crowns – Know Your Options

Millions of people in the United Kingdom and all over the world have had a missing tooth replaced with a dental crown (in form of a dental bridge) or strengthened a weakened tooth with a dental crown. A crown is a dental material that is placed on a tooth damaged by trauma or decay with the aim of improving its appearance, functionality or alignment. It could also cover an implant in order to give it a tooth-like appearance and function.
If you’re considering having a tooth replaced or crowned, here are some of the options available to you:
Ceramic (porcelain) only.
Porcelain fused to metal.
Base metal alloys.
Gold alloys.
Zirconia crowns

Ceramic (porcelain) only.
These crowns best simulate a natural tooth and so give the most aesthetically pleasing result. It is for this reason that they are usually used to restore front teeth.
However they are not as strong as metal crowns and so cannot be used for heavy biting. They also require more natural tooth structure to be removed before placing them.

Porcelain fused to metal.
This is commonly used to make dental crowns. They have the advantage of being cosmetically pleasing and also stronger than all-porcelain crowns because here the porcelain is reinforced on the inside by a metal.
Their drawbacks, however, are that they need more filing down of natural tooth structure (compared to metal crowns) and over time, the metal may appear as a dark line at the gum line.

Base metal alloys.
These contain non-noble metals like palladium, chromium or nickel. They provide great strength, are resistant to wear, gentle to opposing teeth, corrosion-resistant and require relatively less amount of healthy tooth structure to be removed.
However they are not cosmetically acceptable and so should only be used for the back teeth.

Gold alloys
They are usually comprised of gold, copper and other metals. Because gold is strong even in thin section, gold alloys require the least amount of natural tooth to be removed during preparation. They are also gentle to opposing teeth, can withstand strong bites, and may even last longer than the surrounding teeth.
Just like base metal alloys, they are also meant for back teeth because of their appearance.

New Technology for Dental Crowns
The latest development in providing dental crowns is the CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and manufacturing) technology. This uses a complex machine and 3-D image of your teeth to make dental crowns. They can give very close simulations of natural teeth and produce precise shapes and sizes of the crowns. They also provide shorter appointments. An example of CAD/CAM restorative material is zirconium oxide from which Zirconia crowns are made.
There are a number of factors involved in choosing a dental crown. Some of these include cosmetics, the condition and position of the tooth to be crowned, and cost. Based on these factors, your dentist will discuss with you the best option for you.

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