Gold Crowns Vs. Porcelain Crowns

The pros and cons of gold crowns, porcelain crowns, and the mixed crown of both gold and porcelain.

What is a dental crown? A dental crown is a dental restoration that covers or encases the tooth on which it is cemented. Dental crowns can be used to rebuild a broken or decayed tooth, cosmetically enhance the appearance of a tooth, or to strengthen the tooth. Although dental crowns can be made of many materials, there are two that are the most common: those made of gold and those made of porcelain. We will explore the pros and cons of both options below.

Some crowns are made of all metal, most commonly gold alloys. There are several reasons why dentists prefer gold crowns. For example, gold is a very workable metal because of its physical characteristics. This makes it easier for the dentist to mold it to the shape of the tooth it is being fitted on, allowing for a very precise fit. Also, since gold is pure metal, these crowns tend to better withstand chewing, biting, and so on once they have been cemented to the tooth. Gold crowns also do not chip, which causes them to last longer than porcelain crowns might. Of all of the materials a crown can be made of, gold crowns are the least likely to break and are the longest lasting. Gold crowns also tend to have the same wear rate as a person's own tooth enamel. Therefore, a gold crown will not cause excessive wearing on the teeth that it is in contact with (the other teeth that rub against the crown). Usually, gold crowns are only used on those teeth that are not visible when a person smiles, since the color is very prominent.

The other main type of material that dental crowns are made of is porcelain. Porcelain crowns are usually used on teeth that can be seen when a person smiles so that the crown appears to be the same color as the rest of the natural teeth. Porcelain crowns are usually best used for front teeth. They are not a good choice for back teeth due to the large chewing and biting forces that people generate. The most cosmetically pleasing porcelain crowns are those that are made 100% of porcelain, making the crown possess a translucency that mirrors natural teeth. Unfortunately, porcelain crowns are much more likely to chip and break than gold crowns.

There is a combination dental crown that is porcelain fused to metal. These crowns are not quite as aesthetically pleasing as an all porcelain crown. To make these, the dental technician makes a metal shell that fits exactly over the tooth. The crown is then given a white, tooth-like appearance by adding a porcelain veneer over the metal shell. The biggest advantage to these crowns is that they can be used for both front and back teeth. These crowns can withstand heavy chewing and biting (because of the metal shell) but also provide a cosmetically pleasing appearance with the porcelain veneer. However, these combination crowns definitely have disadvantages. One, the appearance is not as nice as the all-porcelain crowns. Also, the crown's porcelain veneer can chip or break off, exposing the metal shell underneath. Unfortunately, the porcelain surface can also accelerate the wearing of the tooth enamel on those teeth nearby that rub against the crown. Finally, the crown's appearance can be flawed by the dark line of the metal shield which can sometimes be seen at the edge of the crown.

The type of crown you decide on comes down to where the tooth is that needs the crown and how important its cosmetic appearance is to you. You should discuss all options with your dentist before making a decision.

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