Why a crown?

zirconia crown, bridgeA crown can be done for any number of reasons:

  • broken tooth
  • root canal treated tooth (to protect it from breaking)
  • large old filling (that can no longer support the tooth)
  • reshape tooth (for appearance and/or improved bite)

A filling really only repairs a small hole. To rebuild, reshape, or protect a substantial part of your tooth, a filling just won’t do the job, and a crown is preferred.¬†A crown is also called a cap.

Sometimes, a filling is not sufficient for long-term strength, yet there is quite a bit of healthy tooth. In this instance a partial crown or inlay is appropriate.

bridge

A bridge is constructed to replace a missing tooth / teeth, and is made of crowns that are invisibly joined together. There be multiple anchor teeth (abutments) and multiple spaces (pontics) that are replaced.

Making a Crown

The tooth is reshaped or “prepared”, often including rebuilding part of the tooth with a crown buildup. The amount of enamel removed is exactly the thickness of the crown (about 0.5-2 mm, depending on materials used: less with all metal, more with porcelain). A mold is made of this tooth (the mold usually includes adjacent teeth and the teeth that this one bites against). From this mold the laboratory constructs your crown (the porcelain color is matched to your tooth). While the crown is being constructed you have a temporary crown on your tooth. It takes about 10 working days before your crown is back from the laboratory. At the second appointment, the crown is bonded on your tooth (you may need to have anesthesia and/or nitrous oxide if your tooth is very sensitive – that’s up to you).

tooth with a large filling

tooth with a large filling

tooth shaped for a crown

tooth shaped for a crown

crown fitted to tooth

crown fitted to tooth

crown cemented in place

crown cemented in place

What is a crown made of?

A crown can be made from different materials: all porcelain, gold alloy (white or yellow), porcelain and gold alloy, other metal combinations (I nearly always make all porcelain crowns; however, if a crown requires metal for strength beneath the porcelain I only use noble or high noble metals). Different situations often suggest different materials to be used depending on durability, esthetics, and physical limitations Рthis is determined in concert with your wishes. When a porcelain crown is made, I match the color (we refer to that as the shade) of your adjacent teeth for the new crown, so that it is not easy to detect that you have a crown.

Classification of Metals: The noble metal classification system has been adopted as a more precise method of reporting various alloys in dentistry commonly used in crowns, bridges and dentures. These alloys contain varying percentages of gold, palladium and/or platinum.


  • high noble contains more than 60% of gold, palladium, and/or platinum (with at least 40% gold)
  • noble contains more than 25% gold, palladium and