Porcelain Vs. Metal Crowns: Which Is Right for You?

Porcelain Vs. Metal Crowns: Which Is Right for You?

When it comes to maintaining a healthy smile, choosing the right dental crown material is an important step. Porcelain and metal crowns offer unique advantages and disadvantages that can significantly affect your oral health and the aesthetics of your smile. 

In this article, we will provide an informative comparison of these two materials, discussing their respective merits and drawbacks, cost implications, and the potential for allergic reactions. The aim is to help you make an informed decision that best fits your needs.

What Is a Dental Crown?

A dental crown or tooth cap is a tooth-shaped cap placed over a damaged or decayed tooth to restore its shape, size, and strength and enhance its appearance. They seal the damaged tooth from further damage and provide stability. Dental crowns can be made from different materials, with porcelain and metal being the most popular types of crowns. It is a long-term dental restoration option that help address many dental problems, such as tooth decay, broken teeth, sensitivity, infections, etc.

What Are Porcelain Crowns?

Porcelain crowns or ceramic crowns are crafted entirely from porcelain, a type of ceramic. These crowns are popular because:

  • They mimic natural teeth’ translucency and depth of color, making them aesthetically appealing.
  • They are biocompatible and don’t cause allergies or irritations.
  • Porcelain crowns resist staining, allowing you to maintain that bright white smile like your original teeth.

However, they also have drawbacks. They require more tooth preparation, which might not be ideal if preserving the natural tooth enamel is a priority. All-porcelain tooth is also less resilient to chewing forces than metal, making them less suitable for back teeth. But it can last for many years with proper care.

What Are Metal Crowns?

Metal crowns can be made from various alloys, including gold, platinum, and base-metal alloys like nickel-chromium and cobalt-chromium. Here’s why someone might lean towards a metal crown vs. porcelain:

  • They are durable, making them an ideal choice for crowns on back teeth.
  • They require less tooth removal during the preparation stage.
  • Metal crowns are less likely to chip or break with proper care than their porcelain counterparts.

The downside? Metal dental crowns, like gold crowns, don’t match the color of your natural teeth and can often be visible when you laugh or speak, which may be a dealbreaker for those who value the aesthetic aspect. Some metal layer crowns can be masked with opaque porcelain to get the nearest qualities necessary to create a natural-looking tooth.

Dental Crown Procedures

Getting a dental crown is a big decision, but it can significantly improve oral health and a tooth’s natural appearance. But don’t sweat it; let’s break down the process step-by-step so you know exactly what to expect during a dental crown procedure.

Step 1: Initial Consultation and Exam

Your journey to a restored smile begins with a comprehensive dental examination. Your dentist will review your dental history, perform an oral examination, and take necessary dental X-rays to assess the health of your tooth. If your tooth is damaged or decayed severely, it may require further procedures, such as root canal treatment, before considering a crown. After assessing the overall condition of your tooth, your dentist will discuss the necessity of a crown, dental bridge, or dental implant and the types available to you. This step ends with an agreement on the treatment plan that best suits your oral health needs and preferences. 

Step 2: Tooth Preparation

Preparing your tooth for its new crown involves a bit of ‘prep work.’ Once your tooth is numbed with local anesthesia for comfort, your dentist will carefully reshape it by removing small portions from its outer surface and biting the edge to make room for the crown. The amount of tooth removed depends on the type of crown you’re getting. Typically, metal crowns require less tooth structure to be removed than porcelain or porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns.

Step 3: Impression Making

With your tooth suitably prepped, it’s time for its close-up. Your dentist will take a digital dental impression or mold of your reshaped tooth and the opposing tooth. This ensures your crown will fit your tooth like a glove and interact correctly with its upper or lower ‘bite partner.’ Impressions can be made using a digital scanner or a tray filled with a putty-like substance.

Step 4: Application of Temporary Crown

Your permanent crown needs time to be crafted to perfection, usually a couple of weeks. In the meantime, your dentist will apply a temporary crown to protect your prepared tooth. The temporary crown is typically made of acrylic-based material or stainless steel and is held in place with temporary cement. Your dentist may also use a filling material to build up parts of your tooth.

Step 5: Placement of Permanent Crown

On your second visit, the dentist will have your permanent crown ready. They will remove the temporary crown, clean your entire tooth, and try to fit the new crown. Your dentist will check if the crown fits snugly, has the correct bite, and matches the color of your neighboring teeth. If everything is optimal, the crown is cemented into place with a strong dental adhesive. Once cemented, it should fit seamlessly into your mouth and, with care, provide long-lasting, functional service.

Potential Risks of Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are a widely used restorative procedure offering numerous benefits. However, it’s crucial to understand the potential risks associated with them. While these complications are rare and manageable, awareness can ensure you take the right preventive measures and address any issues early for a lasting, healthy smile. Let’s explore these potential hazards in more detail.

  • Allergic Reactions: Some people might be allergic to the materials used in crowns. Patients with metal allergies (e.g., nickel, cobalt, or chromium) are the most common, but rare reactions to all-ceramic crowns or resin can also occur.
  • Crown Dislodging: The crown can dislodge if the crown isn’t properly fit or the cement doesn’t hold. In such cases, contact your dentist immediately.
  • Damage or Wear and Tear: A crown is made to be durable, but just like natural teeth, it can also crack, chip, or wear down over time.
  • Infection or Decay: If the crowned tooth is not properly cared for, it can cause decayed teeth or infection, necessitating further treatment like a dental implant.
  • Gum Disease: Without proper oral hygiene, plaque can accumulate at the base of the crown, leading to gum disease or gum recession.
  • Improper Fit: An improperly fitted crown can lead to discomfort, bite misalignment, and even affect neighboring teeth.
  • Aesthetic Issues: Especially with metal crowns, there may be cosmetic concerns as they do not match the color of natural teeth and can be visible when laughing or speaking.
  • Dark Line on Gums: With porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns, a dark line can appear at the gum line over time, which might seem unsightly, especially if visible when you smile.
  • Increased Need for Replacement: If you grind or clench your teeth, your crown may need to be replaced sooner. It’s essential to let your dentist know about these habits.
  • Gum Irritation: Some people might experience inflammation or irritation of the gums surrounding the crown. Depending on the crown type, this usually subsides, but it’s important to consult your dentist if it doesn’t.

Remember, while these potential risks exist, your dentist will take steps to minimize these, and regular dental check-ups can help detect any issues early on. With proper oral hygiene and care, most risks associated with dental crowns can be effectively managed or prevented.

Metal Vs. Porcelain Crown Cost

When comparing metal vs. porcelain crowns, metal crowns made of gold or platinum tend to be more expensive due to the cost of the material. Porcelain and porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crowns can be less costly. The dentist must remove a large portion of the natural tooth structure for the crown to fit. Checking your dental insurance coverage and discussing the costs with your dentist before deciding is essential.

Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Crowns

Caught in the crossroads of the porcelain crown vs. metal crown debate? 

Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns might be an alternative. They are ideal for posterior teeth and are made from a metal base to provide the strength of a metal structure and the natural appearance of a porcelain crown, giving you the best of both worlds. However, the porcelain part can chip or break off, and the underlying metal can sometimes be seen as a dark line at the gum.

The Bottom Line: Which Should You Choose?

Choosing between a porcelain crown and a metal crown is a significant decision. But it’s all about understanding your specific needs and preferences. Consider your aesthetic expectations, the location and function of your tooth, your budget, and your dentist’s recommendation.

Remember that a crown is an investment in your dental health and self-confidence. So, don’t rush the process. Ask questions, and make an educated choice that benefits your smile. Contact us to schedule an appointment today, and let our team of experienced and friendly dentists guide you.