Crowns – metal versus porcelain? Which should I choose?

choosing dental crownsCrowns are used in cosmetic dentistry to fix the appearance of a broken, unattractive or discoloured tooth. They are typically made of a base component, metal or porcelain and some people will then choose to have an outer layer of a different material on top of the base. This layer is often porcelain, but can be other materials such as glass or gold.

Opting for a metal base/porcelain cover

Many crowns are made from a metal base which has a layer of porcelain bonded to it. These are very popular as the metal makes it strong and durable, while the outer layer of porcelain makes for an aesthetically pleasing solution to the broken or unsightly tooth.

The challenge with having a metal base is that you will be able to see a small amount of the metal around the edge where it is bonded to the porcelain. This will be darker than the porcelain colour (which will match the ivory colour of your natural teeth). For some people, this isn’t ideal and they wish to look at alternatives.

Opting for purely porcelain

Some people will opt for a fully porcelain crown. This gets around the issue of the darker edge that a metal/bonded porcelain crown will give, and the wholly porcelain crown will match your other teeth perfectly. It looks very natural. The problem with a 100% porcelain crown is that it is a weaker material and therefore more likely to break and require replacing.

Fully porcelain crowns are not the only alternative to using a metal base; some people will choose a ceramic crown. This is a much newer solution for people who wish to avoid a crown bonded to a metal base. Ceramic is stronger than porcelain so offers a more long-lasting crown, however the price reflects this.

Our favoured approach

Here at CK Dental Practice in Bristol we will look at where your crown will be and discuss with you the best solution. One of the most important things to consider is the place in your mouth where the crown will be. If it is covering one of your front teeth and will be in clear view, you may wish to consider a more expensive material that will make the match with your other teeth more seamless.

Alternatively, if the crown is to be further back in your mouth your priorities may be different. A more cost effective, stronger component, one that offers very slightly less aesthetically pleasing results may be a better option to cover a tooth that will be less visible.