Cosmetic dentistry offers a variety of treatments to restore damaged or decayed teeth, while also improving their color, shape, and size. One common treatment that is recommended by cosmetic dentists are dental crowns. A dental crown fits over the top of your natural tooth and is like a fancy jacket. While your natural tooth sits safely underneath, the exterior is a perfectly shaped tooth.
Cosmetic dental crowns can be used to correct a variety of cosmetic concerns on one or more teeth. In cases where there are multiple adjacent teeth in need of restoration, a dental bridge containing two or more dental crowns may also be used. Dental crowns are also used to restore and preserve the natural tooth structure following root canal therapy.
When it comes to cosmetic dental crowns, there are a few different crowns that your cosmetic dentist may ask you to consider. Types of cosmetic dental crowns include:
- Leucite Reinforced Pressable Crowns (IPS Empress): Empress crowns were one of the first all-ceramic crowns to be introduced around 15 years ago. They are fabricated using a wax and press technique that results in a stronger core and better blending with the surrounding teeth. Their aesthetics make them a good choice for restoring visible teeth in the front of the mouth. Overall, Empress crowns are considered to be both durable and aesthetic, however they are not as strong as e.max crowns.
- Lithium Disilicate Crowns (IPS e.max): e.max crowns are about three times stronger than Empress crowns. They can be fabricated using the wax and press technique, as well as by being milled by a CAD/CAM machine. Its fabrication process also allows for the outer layering of porcelain, which gives the crown a natural appearance. However, this outer layer can be susceptible to chipping, especially in people who grind or clench their teeth. For this reason, single layer e.max crowns may be recommended for use in the back teeth or for those who grind or clench their teeth.
- Solid Zirconia: solid zirconia crowns are by far the strongest type of cosmetic crown and are often used to restore teeth towards the back of the mouth. They are milled using a CAD/CAM machine and are one of best-fitting dental crowns. This type of cosmetic crown is ideal for people who grind or clench their teeth, as zirconia crowns are virtually indestructible.
- High-Translucent Zirconia: Although HT zirconia crowns are not as strong as solid zirconia, they still provide enough strength to be used in the back of the mouth. However, this type of zirconia crown offers more translucency than solid zirconia and is best suited for use in the front of the mouth.
When it comes to choosing a cosmetic dental crown, one thing that will be considered is what zone the affected tooth falls in. There are two zones in the mouth: the aesthetic zone and the functional zone. The aesthetic zone represents the visible teeth that are in the front of the mouth. Generally speaking, aesthetics are prioritized for these teeth because they do not require the same type of strength as the back teeth. Teeth in the functional zone are those that are further back in the mouth and regularly undergo constant force from chewing and grinding up food. Therefore, these teeth usually require more functional crown options and will not prioritize aesthetics in the same way.
Overall, your cosmetic dentist will help you to consider your cosmetic crown options and will make recommendations based on the location of the affected tooth, your treatment goals, and whether or not you grind or clench your teeth. Both porcelain and zirconia crowns provide options that are durable and aesthetic, however they have slight differences that may make one option better than another for your individual case.
Dr. Gerard J. Lemongello Jr. graduated from the University of Florida College of Dentistry and has been in private practice since 1987. His focus is on cosmetic and comprehensive restorative rehabilitative dentistry. He is a member of the American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association and Academy of General Dentistry, and is an accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.