Dental crowns – do we really need them?

Your tooth has been doing just fine with fillings for many years, but suddenly your dentist says that you need a crown. You shutter when you hear the price. Can it be true? Why does your tooth suddenly need a crown? And does it really have to be so expensive?

Do you need a crown?Your teeth have been doing just fine with fillings for many years, but suddenly your dentist says that you need one or maybe even several dental crowns. You shutter when you hear the price of the crowns. Can it be true? Why do your teeth suddenly need crowns? And do dental crowns really have to be so expensive?

Why fillings don’t work forever

Fillings work quite well when there is enough of the original tooth substance left to fix the filling on to. A filling can normally last 10 – 15 years after which it either falls off or there are signs of dental caries starting to develop underneath or at the edge of the filling. In many cases your dentist can just change the filling to a new one. Each time a filling is changed, however, your dentist will need to remove a bit more of the original tooth in order to create a clean surface for the filling to be attached to. This is the reason that your dentist might eventually deem the amount left of the original tooth insufficient for supporting a filling. In this case, the only proper treatment alternative is dental crowns.

Different kinds of dental crowns

You can normally choose between a few different materials for dental crowns. The alternatives include porcelain crowns, gold crowns, plast crowns and a combination of metal and porcelain crowns. The prices of dental crowns range according to the material. You can discuss the different alternatives and their price with your dentist.

Porcelain crowns are normally the most expensive dental crowns and are preferred my many, because they look the most like the natural tooth.

Gold crowns are often recommended by dentists. The reason is that gold is the material that is most like the natural tooth in substance and also makes stronger dental crowns than the ones purely made of porcelain. Dental crowns made of gold are mostly used in molars because of their not-so-natural appearance.

Plast crowns also look very much like the natural tooth in color, but plast is not a very strong material for dental crowns and often doesn’t last as long as the other materials. Plast crowns should therefore mainly be considered as a temporary (and/or cheaper) solution.

Metal-ceramic crowns are made of porcelain on the outside with a metal core on the inside. In this way the natural color is combined with the strength of the metal. For molars this material makes very strong dental crowns, but for front teeth many would prefer dental crowns made of pure porcelain. The reason is that metal-ceramic crowns lack the transparency of natural teeth, whereas dental crowns made of pure porcelain are more transparent and look more natural.

Before making your decision on what material to choose for your dental crowns, you should discuss the matter thoroughly with your dentist. You might not need to choose the most expensive alternative, but the cheapest dental crowns might not prove to be so cheap in the end anyway, if the result doesn’t last or if the tooth is damaged. Take the life expectancy of the different dental crowns into consideration and also consider your own needs and expectations. Then you will surely find a good solution.