Throughout history, dentists have tried to recreate the function and beauty of natural teeth when tooth structure has been lost due to fractures and or decay. Restoring function used to be the main goal of a dentist because prior to the 1970's, dentistry lacked the proper technology to achieve fine esthetics as well as function. Dentists could only predictably offer patients a restoration that would simply "fill" the empty space.
Today, dentistry has more advanced dental materials and newly developed techniques that allow dentists to offer artistically-recreated, natural-looking crowns that would fool even the most critical eye.
Before you can understand how crowns can mimic teeth you must understand why natural teeth appear as they do.
What Color Are Your Teeth?
It is a common mistake for patients to think that their teeth are all one color. Your teeth are never just one color. They are a series of superimposed translucent layers of varying shades. Teeth also have different surface textures that reflect light in ways that affect the color of your teeth.
Your teeth are made up of three layers: pulp, dentin, and enamel. Each layer has a specific thickness, composition and structure. Additionally, the way light reflects off of or passes through the layers gives you the color of your teeth. Using knowledge about the three layers of teeth allow dentists and dental technicians to recreate natural-looking crowns.
Who Makes the Crowns?
Dental technicians are the true artisans in dentistry. Dentists begin the crown-making process by reducing the size of the tooth, making an impression of the reduced tooth, and selecting the proper shades of the tooth. This information is then transferred to the dental technician so a crown can be made.
Dental technicians blend science with artistic knowledge to recreate natural-looking teeth. Artistically, they use frame of reference, proportion and idealism, perspective and symmetry to mimic and sometimes enhance nature. Understanding the language of colors and using new dental materials and techniques has allowed the dentist to not only "fill" missing spaces but create dental artwork as well.
A crown is a dental restoration that covers the entire tooth above the gum-line. They are used when too much of the original tooth structure is lost or damaged to allow for repair with a filling. Crowns are often used to replace large old fillings that have failed, to repair a broken tooth, or restore a tooth with a substantial amount of decay. Although dental crowns used to be made entirely of metal, or metal covered by a white porcelain, many can now be made completely of strong, high-quality, tooth-colored porcelain or other ceramic to obtain a natural, lifelike appearance.
At Westchester Smile Design we create ceramic crowns that are virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth.
Porcelain Crowns – The Benefits
Porcelain crowns are ideal for front teeth, which are more visible than back teeth yet do not need to withstand the same amount of chewing pressures. Newer, high-quality ceramics are strong enough to be used for all-porcelain crowns and, in the hands of a skilled cosmetic dentist like Dr. Shay Markovitch, can be crafted and shaped to look completely natural.
Types of Porcelain Crowns
There are many different types of ceramics that can now be used to create these crowns. These include: E-Max, Empress, Cerec, Feldspathic, Procera and Zirconium. Each type has certain characteristics that make it preferable for certain situations, but also more complicated to apply. The best ceramic for one patient’s dental crown is not necessarily the best for another. When choosing a dentist for a dental crown restoration, it’s important to choose one who is experienced and comfortable with a number of different ceramics so that he or she can customize a crown that will fit that particular case. Dr. Markovitch has extensive experience with all of these types of ceramics, as well as others.
Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal (PFM) Crowns
Some dental restorations are not suited to repair with an all-ceramic crown. Some anterior (back) teeth will still need the strength of a metal crown. And, patients with severe night-grinding or bruxism issues may need to have a metal crown, as well. In these situations, patients can have the metal crown covered by porcelain that is baked onto the crown’s surface. These crowns, known as porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns, are common throughout the dental community. However, not all PFM crowns are the same.
PFM crowns placed by general dentists are often made of a lower-grade metal alloy with a lower quality, white porcelain baked onto the surface. These crowns are inexpensive and easy to produce, but they are not very attractive. Most have a very opaque, solid appearance and will show a dark metal line at the gum-line.