A crown is used to protect a tooth when it is severely weakened. A crown, sometimes referred to as a “cap,” surrounds the tooth 360 degrees. This helps protect the tooth from further damage. Typically, a tooth needs a crown when there have been previous large fillings in the tooth and fracture lines are seen in the remaining tooth structure.
Crowns are also done when there is a large amount of decay or when a tooth has had a root canal.
Traditional crowns have a metal substructure that is stacked with tooth-colored porcelain. These are commonly used on the back teeth because of their combination of esthetics, strength and proven track record.
All-ceramic crowns have no metal. These are typically used on the front teeth because they can be very esthetic and natural looking.
Zirconia is a new material that is all tooth-colored (no grey metal) and is very hard. This material is used when a person has a very “heavy” bite or a tendency to wear through the porcelain of traditional crowns over time.
All-metal crowns, also known as gold crowns, are sometimes used when there is very little room and porcelain would be at risk of breaking. This material is typically used on the very back teeth.
Each type of material has its appropriate uses and no one material fits each situation.