What Is Right for You: Gold or Porcelain Crowns?

Crowns are an investment -- not in the way that you'll see a lucrative return, but that they'll increase the longevity and health of your smile. That's why it's important to select the type that best suits its purpose and also your lifestyle.

If your dentist has suggested a crown or if you're thinking of replacing an existing one, here are a few things you should know.


Image via Flickr by David Joyce

There are a number of choices when it comes to materials for crowns including stainless steel, all metal (such as gold or another alloy), a porcelain overlay fused to metal, all resin, or all ceramic options. Your dental provider probably made a suggestion to you based on the location of your crown, whether it will be seen when you smile or not, and the purpose of the tooth that the crown is on (how much wear and tear it undergoes). However, if you're still wondering what's best for you, let's take a look at two of the most popular options -- gold and porcelain.

When Are They Used?

Dentists use crowns for a number of reasons, such as repairing the teeth after they've sustained damage (due to grinding or trauma), to balance out or cap a smaller tooth for cosmetic purposes, or as a "top" to restore the tooth post-cavity. The reason for the crown is important because it will affect which type of material is used. For instance, if the tooth has experienced severe damage due to grinding, gold is the best option because it is the strongest and most likely to endure the pressure put forth from a grinder. However, if the crown will cap a tooth that is visible when smiling, a porcelain-fused metal option would be the second best choice.

The Pros and Cons of Gold

Gold is safe and requires the smallest amount of tooth to be removed prior to the capping. Gold never fractures, thus the reason it's used on grinders. However, unless you love the look of gold in your mouth, it's generally reserved for teeth that are out of sight while smiling. The gold is a stark contrast against anyone's teeth and is noticeable if used anywhere outside of the deepest recesses of the mouth.

The Pros and Cons of Porcelain

When it comes to porcelain, there are two different kinds -- porcelain fused to metal, and solid porcelain. Porcelain fused to metal provides some of the strength of metal but with the aesthetic look of porcelain. However, it is not uncommon to see the metal at the baseline of the tooth and while it's stronger than solid porcelain, it can still chip and fracture. Porcelain offers the most tooth-like appearance but is also the most fragile. For this reason it is often not a good solution for teeth that do a lot of grinding.

Whether you opt for gold or porcelain, crowns are not cheap, but a dental savings plan can make them much more affordable. Best of all, you can begin using the plan as soon as you sign up.

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