Dental Crowns – A Consumer’s Guide

A crown is a cap that completely covers a single tooth and adds strength, stability, and durability to an otherwise weakened structure. It can be made out of gold or ceramic and is typically fitted by a dentist in one or two visits.

Crowns tend to be quite expensive and therefore individuals are increasingly looking to other destinations to cut down the cost. In addition, there have been several advances in the field with newer porcelain crowns veneers offering a better cosmetic appearance and only requiring a single visit.

You might need a crown if:

  • A lot of your tooth has decayed and there isn't enough tooth structure to fill in the same way that small cavities are filled
  • A large section of your tooth has fractured off
  • You have a large cavity and are opting for the additional protection that a crown offers against fracture and decay
  • You have implants and are opting for crowns to be fitted
  • If you have had a root canal on one of your rear teeth then a crown is typically required to strengthen the tooth
  • If you want a better smile but veneers/implants are not appropriate
  • Grinding or acid erosion has significantly reduced the tooth

There are a number of options to consider if you decide to get a crown fitted:

Full Gold Crowns

Even though these are called full gold, they are normally an alloy of various metals. Check with your dentist that the 'gold' they are using contains at least 75% noble metal. Gold crowns are typically made by taking a wax impression and having the crown fabricated in a laboratory and then fitted in a later visit. As gold crowns require at least two visits to a dentist, many dental tourists opt for the ceramic variety. However, it should be noted that many dentists still regard full gold crowns as being superior in the long term.

Porcelain Fused To Metal Crowns

In order to achieve a more natural look on visible teeth, porcelain can be fused to metal crowns. This is a different process to full gold crowns as more of the original tooth needs to be removed in order to make space for the porcelain. Although gold can be used, normally a different metal alloy is used because of the intense heat of the fabrication process. The latest and most expensive material used is zirconium oxide.

Porcelain Crowns

There are two main types of porcelain crowns. The traditional variety is felspathic and is created in a lab making porcelain. The newer type is created by a single ingot and can be created by specialized equipment in the dentist's surgery. This makes porcelain crowns particularly attractive to the dental tourist as they can be completed in a single visit.