Tooth crowns are often made out of porcelain. In fact, they're regularly referred to as porcelain crowns. This is because porcelain is an excellent mimic, and matches the color, texture, and translucence of natural dental enamel. When a porcelain crown is fitted over a tooth, the porcelain blends into your smile, and the restoration looks just like a natural tooth. So why is your dentist recommending a metal crown?
Anterior and Posterior
Each tooth in your mouth has a specific purpose, but your teeth can be loosely divided into two categories—anterior and posterior. Your anterior teeth are prominently located directly behind your mouth, towards the front of your dental arch. These are your canine and incisor teeth and are visible when you smile, speak, and eat. Posterior teeth are your premolars and molars, located towards the rear of your dental arch, and aren't quite so visible.
Gripping or Chewing
When you consume food, anterior teeth are used for gripping and tearing. Your premolars and molars do the hard work, chewing and grinding your food down to a consistency where it can safely be swallowed. As such, your premolars and molars experience more bite pressure than your canines and incisors. Although a porcelain tooth crown is going to offer more than enough strength when biting and gripping food, a crown that must chew and grind may need extra reinforcement.
If one of your premolars or molars is in need of a crown, your dentist may suggest a metal option. These don't look as natural as their porcelain counterparts, but the extra strength can be in the best interests of your ongoing dental health. You can have a gold alloy crown or a base alloy metal crown made of non-noble (non-precious) metals. Gold dental restorations may be fairly obvious, although gold itself is an excellent material, being pliable enough for easy application while offering high tensile strength. A base alloy metal crown will be metal-colored but can be less conspicuous than gold.
The Crown's Appearance
Even though a metal crown can be the most appropriate choice for a posterior tooth, you might not like the appearance of such a crown, despite the fact that its location will render it mostly invisible. But it's your smile and is ultimately your choice. There's a useful compromise in these situations, and this is a porcelain shell fused onto a metal frame. This type of crown offers the best of both worlds—with the natural appearance of the porcelain supported by the strength of the metal frame underneath.
Yes, porcelain crowns may be the most common type of crown—but depending on the tooth that needs to be restored, porcelain won't always be the default choice.
Speak to your dentist to learn more about dental crowns.