Dental Crowns: What Types Are Available?

Jamie J. Alexander on April 4, 2022

Has the time come when you need a dental crown to preserve your tooth and keep it healthy and functioning? If so, you are likely wondering what types of crowns are available and their relative costs. There is so much marketing out there that you might be wondering, “Which dentist do I choose?”

Dr. Jamie J. Alexander of Boynton Beach, Florida, routinely recommends different types of crowns. In this blog, we hope to make it simple for you to understand these available types of crowns and why one may be preferable over the others for your special dental function and smile.

If you are considering being a new patient, you might want to read our New Patient Information, in addition to online reviews. 

Before learning about the types of crowns below, here are the top reasons you might like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Alexander to discuss your needs.

Why do patients go to Dr. Jamie Alexander for their crowns?

  • He is a compassionate Pankey Institute trained dentist with extensive knowledge of occlusion (how upper and lower teeth come together when you bite down, chew food, speak, clench your jaws, and unconsciously grind your teeth when asleep).
  • He has been restoring whole mouths, in even some of the most complex oral health situations, for over 15 years.
  • He stays constantly abreast of the latest materials and methods for restoring and replacing damaged teeth. In fact, he participates in three different study clubs with other restorative dentists and specialists, on a regular basis.
  • He has been highly selective about the certified dental technician (CDT) he uses for dental crowns. His choice is Frank Nagy of Golden Angle Laboratory in Sunrise, Florida. They have a close relationship focused on careful, thorough communication and documentation to ensure every crafted crown is the best it can be so your fine dentistry lasts and appears beautiful in your smile.
  • Patients truly appreciate the time he takes to get to know them and their oral health needs, then fully inform them of the reasons why a specific treatment is in their best interest (not his), and to fully inform them about their treatment options, what to expect, and which type of crown he recommends for where it will be placed in their mouth.
  • Patients have learned they can trust Dr. Alexander and his friendly team for all their dental needs and can count on personalized attention time after time.

What does Dr. Alexander take into consideration when planning crown treatment?

  • Health: Sometimes gum health needs to be improved to get optimal treatment results. Sometimes tooth roots are so inflamed or damaged, root canal treatment is needed first. Sometimes the tooth structure above the roots is so damaged, it needs to have core buildup so there is a post to seat the crown on. Sometimes even a core buildup will not be sufficient, so the tooth is removed and followed by crown-and-bridge treatment to fill the gap — or alternatively by dental implant treatment.
  • Function: How much stress will be placed on the crown when you bite, chew, grind, and clench? Will one type of crown last longer than another?
  • Form: What shape and size should the crown be for harmonious function with your other teeth when you bite, chew, grind, and clench.
  • Aesthetics: What shape, size, color shading, and translucency will provide for the most naturally beautiful appearance in your mouth, especially when you smile. 
  • Costs: Different types of crowns have different associated costs for materials and the dentist’s and dental technician’s time.
  • Patient Concerns: Dr. Alexander always explores concerns patients have about true need, costs, time, and feared pain. Together, he and the patient discover what the patient needs to know to comfortably make a decision, and he answers questions to allay fears. Sedation medication options are always available. His patient coordinator at the front of the office explains more about treatment costs, insurance claims, and available options for financing payment over time, for example, with CareCredit.

What are the types of dental crowns?

Porcelain Fused to Zirconia (PFZ) Crowns

Zirconium oxide (zirconia) is the strongest biocompatible ceramic and is used in orthopedics as well as dentistry. Because zirconia is a “tough” white ceramic it can be machine milled in the dental lab. Porcelain is then overlain by hand and fused to it to create the closest match to natural teeth in terms of translucency, reflectivity, and color shading.

This type of crown combines strength, durability, and the highest standard of aesthetics. Because of its superior aesthetics and biocompatibility, dentists and patients prefer this type of crown, especially in the “smile zone,” which is the portion of the mouth that shows when you smile. The dark ring that appears over time at the base of porcelain fused to metal (PFM) crowns is due to gum tissue pulling away from the alloy metal used in PFM crowns. This does not occur with PFZ crowns, so in almost all cases, a PFZ crown will not only be durable to last indefinitely but also optimize aesthetics for your lifetime.

Porcelain Fused to Metal (PFM) Crowns

This type of crown is strong, can last an adult’s lifetime in a healthy mouth, and the porcelain appears like natural tooth enamel. The alloy metal used under the porcelain to make the crown durable is not biocompatible like the zirconia described above. Over time, the gum tissue pulls away from the metal leaving a dark ring around the base of the crown. In the back part of the mouth, a dark ring might not be noticed unless you have a wide smile. People with metal allergies usually decide that zirconia-based porcelain crowns or full zirconia crowns are a better choice for themselves.

Dr. Jamie Alexander will occasionally treat back teeth with PFM crowns because he and the patient agree the level of aesthetics and durability will be adequate to please the patient and last a long time, and the cost savings makes the most sense to the patient.

Full / Solid Zirconia Crowns

Full zirconia crowns are CAD/CAM milled and bonded directly to the prepared tooth without the addition of overlain porcelain. They offer patients high strength with high aesthetics and biocompatibility but do not result in the highest standard of natural appearance because zirconia lacks translucency. Dr. Alexander may suggest these as a treatment option for teeth at the back of the mouth over porcelain fused to zirconia (PFZ) for their strength and durability.

Emax (Lithium Disilicate) Crowns 

Emax is a brand of glass-ceramic from Ivoclar Vivadent. Dr. Alexander’s dental technician at Golden Angle Laboratory can mill a crown from a block of this material that goes by the scientific name of “lithium disilicate.” Because of its strength, very thin crowns can be created from Emax. The color and slight translucency of Emax crowns blend well with surrounding teeth and make them a favorite choice for teeth that show when you smile. Because of their thinness, Dr. Alexander can remove a minimal amount of your natural tooth structure, leading to greater tooth strength.

Gold Crowns

For patients that grind their teeth or who have a heavy bite, a gold crown will typically cause less grinding wear on the natural enamel of opposing teeth than other types of crowns. For this reason, Dr. Alexander may recommend a gold crown for a back molar in need of restoration.  Gold has long been used in dentistry, as is still the “gold standard” to which all other dental materials are compared. Gold is the longest-lasting, and most kind to the mouth and biting surfaces.

Take steps now to avoid being a dental emergency patient.

Teeth can suddenly break and when it happens unexpectedly you may find yourself scrambling to find a dentist and schedule the care you need.

Both new patients and existing patients are invited to schedule an appointment for an up-to-date comprehensive exam and x-ray imaging. During that appointment, Dr. Alexander will evaluate and discuss any current or likely near-future treatment needs. Time will be taken so you can comfortably talk about your concerns, ask questions, receive the information you need, and Dr. Alexander can gather the information he needs to plan the most appropriate treatment to achieve your goals for a healthy mouth and beautiful smile.

Our Boynton Beach dental office is just a phone call away.