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What To Know About A Metal Cap On Teeth

Metals have been used for dental crowns longer than any other material, and they're still being used today because of their durability and cost-effectiveness. If you think a metal crown may be best for your damaged tooth, we'll break down the benefits and disadvantages to ensure you end up with a crown that makes you smile.

What Are the Benefits of Metal Crowns?

Metals are popular for crowns because they're strong and tend to be more affordable than other tooth capping options. Their durability also makes them a great material choice for your back teeth because they take on more pressure when you chew than your other teeth do.

  • Gold alloy crowns are a mix of gold and another metal – usually copper, zinc, platinum, silver, or palladium. Gold alloys bond extremely securely to teeth, won't fracture or wear, and won't wear down surrounding teeth.
  • Base metal alloys like nickel and chromium are strong and highly resistant to corrosion, too. Base metal caps require the least amount of healthy enamel to adhere to, making them a good choice for extremely decayed or broken teeth.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a metal crown can last anywhere from five to fifteen years, depending on wear and tear,

What Are the Disadvantages of Metal Crowns?

If you want your crown to look like your actual tooth, metal probably isn't the material choice for you. That's why metal caps are most often used for the back teeth, where they are less visible. If you need a crown near the front of your mouth and don't mind having a shiny, reflective tooth surface, then metal could still be a great option.

If you're allergic to metal, you'll want to communicate that with your dental professional. If you already have a crown and believe you are experiencing an allergic reaction, contact your dental professional right away.

What Are the Alternatives to Metal Crowns?

If you're looking for a crown material that more closely resembles your other teeth, there are various good options for you to consider.

  • Porcelain and ceramic are often used for restoring front teeth because they closely resemble your other teeth. One drawback of this material is that your dentist might need to file down some of your original tooth to fit your crown. Also, these materials are brittle and can be damaged over time by the pressure of biting.
  • Porcelain fused to metal (PFM) crowns are more durable than porcelain alone. The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health found that more than 60 percent of these crowns remain strong and undamaged for longer than eight years after they are placed.
  • Zirconia and resin are two newer cap materials available today. These materials combine the durability of metal caps with the natural look of porcelain.

Learn more about the types of dental crowns.

What You Can Expect When Getting Your Crown

Depending on whether or not your dental professional has CAD/CAM (computer-aided drafting/computer-aided manufacturing) technology in their office, you can get your crown in either one or two appointments.

In either case, your dentist will file or fill your tooth to prepare it for crown placement, then take an impression of your mouth to determine the shape of your cap. In the past, impressions were made from a gooey substance in a mouthguard that you would bite down on until it dried. Now, most dental professionals use an intraoral scanner to create a quick, clean digital rendering of your mouth.

If your dental professional has CAD/CAM capabilities in their office, they will make your crown right then and there and place your crown on your tooth the same day. Otherwise, your dental professional will place a temporary cap on your tooth, send the impression to a dental lab, and have you return for a second appointment. Your temporary cap will be removed at that time, and the permanent crown will be cemented to your tooth.

Metal crowns are a great option for maintaining the size, strength, and shape of your tooth. If you're looking for a material that resembles your other teeth, you may want to consider other options. Ask your dental professional what they suggest for your specific needs. Whichever material you choose, we hope it makes you smile.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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