Porcelain Crown FAQ

What are porcelain crowns?

Porcelain dental crowns are an extremely popular solution to teeth that have become damaged, decayed or are in any other way unattractive. They sit perfectly over the top of the tooth that you want to be covered, restoring the shape, color, strength and functionality of a natural tooth.

Types of porcelain crown

There are two main types of porcelain crown. These are all-porcelain crowns (which are unsurprisingly made entirely from porcelain), and porcelain-fused-to-metal – commonly known as PFM – crowns.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each, but primarily, PFM crowns are more robust and last longer than their all-porcelain counterparts. However, some patients find that the darker metal inside sometimes shows through the porcelain, creating a dark shadow with a lighter outline which doesn’t look quite as natural as an all-porcelain crown.

Why porcelain instead of regular crowns?

In the past, crowns have been created from a variety of materials including gold or stainless steel. Porcelain have a cosmetic benefit in that they can be color-matched to your regular teeth, making them extremely discreet and giving you a natural-looking smile.

Crowns that are made entirely from porcelain are also biocompatible, meaning that there is absolutely no risk of gum irritation or allergic reaction.

Why has my dentist recommended a crown?

Your dentist will usually recommend a crown if:

  • You have a severely worn down or broken tooth.

  • You have a cracked tooth that needs to be held together.

  • You have a weak tooth that is at risk of breaking.

  • You are also having a dental bridge. This is because crowns can help secure them in place.

  • You have a tooth that requires a larger filling than is possible (usually due to broken/eroded parts of the tooth).

  • You have a discoloured or badly stained tooth.

  • Your tooth is severely misshapen or a different size to the others.

  • You are having dental implants.

How are porcelain crowns fitted?

Porcelain crowns are fitted in exactly the same way as regular crowns. Impressions will be made of the size, shape and color that the crown needs to be so that it can be made accurately. Then the damaged tooth need to be prepared so that the crown can fit snugly over the top of it. This involves filing it down in height and width, which is usually done under local anesthetic, although some dentists are able to offer stronger forms of sedation.

You will then need to make another visit to your dentist’s office to have your custom-created porcelain crown fitted into place.

Are there any risks I should be aware of?

As with all dental procedures, there are some considerations that you should make before opting for porcelain crowns. These include:

  • There is a slight risk of infection. If the tooth to be covered is not properly cleaned out and sealed an infection could develop.

  • There is also a very small risk of some nerve damage to the surrounding area.

  • In PFM crowns, there is a small risk that the patient may experience irritation or an allergic reaction to the metal component.

  • Between 1% and 15% of patients will require root canal treatment ahead of a crown being fitted.

  • If your damaged or decayed tooth is not able to be filed down sufficiently, you may not be a suitable candidate for a porcelain crown. Instead, your dentist may recommend extraction as the best course of action.

  • All-porcelain crowns are not quite as robust as PFM crowns, and as such, your dentist may recommend that you take special care when eating particularly tough or chewy foods.

How long can I expect my porcelain crown to last?

The life expectancy of your crown will vary depending on how well you look after it, and the amount of wear and tear in your mouth in general. However, the majority of crowns last between 5 and 15 years, with PFM crowns usually outlasting all-porcelain varieties.

Will the cost be covered by my dental insurance?

All-porcelain crowns are typically more expensive than PFM or all-metal varieties. Crowns required for functional reasons are very often covered by dental insurers, but your cover may be limited to the cheapest varieties of crown rather than a porcelain type. Check your dental insurance policy thoroughly before you start your procedure. If you find that you aren’t covered by your insurance, many dentists will be able to recommend an affordable payment plan to you achieve the smile that you deserve.