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Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are one of the most common dental restoration procedures. A crown is like a cup that covers the portion of a tooth which is at and above the gum line. Once it is glued on, the dental crown becomes the tooth's new outer surface. Dental crowns are sometimes called "dental caps" or "tooth caps."

Dental crowns are custom-fit to your teeth. The shape and size of the crown is based on molds of your teeth taken by the dentist. The molds are used by dental technicians, or the equivalent, to make your crowns.

Most dentists send the molds to a qualified dental laboratory which employs dental technicians to make crowns for several dentists. Quality control at this dental laboratory is critical. Some dentists may even send the molds out of the country to assure better quality, but then the price may be higher. Crowns will often take 3 -5 business days to create for you, especially if they are made at an external laboratory. A very big or busy dental practice might have its own dental lab on-site.

Types of Crowns

A telescopic crown builds up a tooth to be the height of its neighbours. Some dentists charge less for this type of crown.

A temporary crown is a plastic casing placed on an implant or in other cases where a permanent crown cannot yet be placed. A temporary crown provides aesthetics, helps prevent infection, and allows chewing.

An “implant crown” takes more work. When a crown is placed on top of an implant, the entire enamel “tooth” is created which takes more time and more materials. Some dentists charge more for this type of crown.

Crowns can be made from a variety of materials:

Porcelain crowns, also referred to as ceramic crowns, are the most “lifelike” type. However, a 100% porcelain crown may be chipped more easily, and may also be translucent or allow light through. Porcelain can be placed over metal for added support and less translucence. 100% porcelain sometimes costs more.

Metal crowns are usually made from a gold alloy or other metal alloy. Some metals are tolerated better by our bodies, and some are not. Metal crowns are not “lifelike” so are not as popular as they once were, but metal can add underlying support to a porcelain crown.

Composite crowns are usually made from an acrylic or a resin material. These are less expensive but not as lifelike. They may also stain more easily.

Where do the materials come from?

Many dentists pride themselves on purchasing materials only from certain European countries, the USA, or Canada. These countries may have a longer history of making the materials and may have more extensive quality control procedures, or better raw materials. Materials from these countries will probably cost more.

A more recent trend is for manufacturers to become “name brand” materials such as Zirconia, which cost more and promise better quality.

Always ask your dentist where they source the materials for their crowns.