How It's Made: Cosmetic Dentistry Materials
Thanks to advancements in the dental industry, cosmetic dentistry materials are stronger, more durable and realistic-looking than ever before. In addition to giving you a new appreciation for science and innovation, knowing about what might go into your new crown or tooth bonding can help you know how long it will last and how to care for it. Here’s what you need to know about cosmetic dentistry materials.
Tooth Bonding: Resins
If you have older fillings, it’s likely they are made from metal fillings, such as amalgam (silver combined with other metals such as copper, tin and zinc) and gold. While the filling may have worked to repair your tooth, it also stood out from the rest of your tooth as a reminder to the world that you’ve had some dental work done. Flash-forward to today when many fillings are made from resins, which are plastic-like materials that can be used as a filling or cemented onto your tooth to cover discolorations and imperfections. The benefits of these resins are that they don’t make you look like you have a mouth full of metal. Instead, your dentist can closely match the resin in color to your tooth, giving you a natural-looking smile.
While resins are made to be strong and durable, they can wear down over time. The expected outlook for resin materials is between five and 10 years, which means you may need to make a repeat trip into your dentist’s office at this type to replace a worn-out or broken area.
While a dental crown may not be made of diamonds, it can be made from zirconia (as in the same material faux diamonds are made from). The best material type for you depends upon the location of the tooth that needs a crown and your desired cosmetic results. Here are some examples of crown materials and how they can help you:
- Porcelain: Thanks to the resemblance to your teeth, porcelain was often used as a crown material, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. However, porcelain is partially made with glass, which meant crowns had a tendency to be brittle. All-porcelain crowns can be a good option if you have a metal allergy, however.
- Metals: Just as with fillings, metal can be used as a crown option. From gold to palladium to nickel to chromium, metal crowns are stronger than porcelain and resin options. However, they are also metal in color, which means they stand out from your surrounding teeth. While this may be okay for a back molar, a crown on a more visible molar may be too obvious.
- Porcelain and metal: Since porcelain isn’t as strong as metal, dental manufacturers started to compromise by having a part-metal, part-porcelain crown. The metal portion of the crown touches your tooth, strengthening it. Porcelain is then covered over the metal part, making the tooth better resemble your surrounding teeth.
- Resin: Resin crowns are considered a less-expensive alternative to porcelain or metal varieties. However, resin crowns are not considered to be as durable as porcelain or metal options. If the crown is over a heavy chewing surface, such as a back molar, resin may not be a strong enough option.
- Ceramic: Ceramic is another crown option that is blended with alumina, spinel or zirconia to strengthen the ceramic and make the crown less likely to chip or break. Much like porcelain, ceramic crowns can closely resemble the surrounding tooth.
Because crowns are typically made in a laboratory setting, your dentist also may create a temporary crown designed to protect your tooth until the permanent crown is created.
“This can be the case if you experience a large chipped or broken tooth,” says Joseph Payne, DDS, a dentist with a private practice in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Temporary crown types are made of less-durable acrylic or stainless steel and serve as a stop-gap until your permanent crown can be applied.