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Why Porcelain Crowns Are Not All Equal – By Dr. Taylor

We are so lucky to live in a day where technology is now providing us with treatment options that will allow us to keep our teeth for our entire lives! Have you ever seen a picture of George Washington’s WOODEN dentures? Trust me, we are lucky to live in our day and time. One amazing treatment that has advanced modern dentistry significantly is the all-porcelain crown. These are beautiful, life-like restorations that allow a dentist to be more conservative and provide a more predictable restoration.

Back 25 or more years, the most beautiful and long-lasting crown you could get was called a PFM, or porcelain fused to metal, crown. These are made of a metal substructure, often a non-precious metal, which is then fired with porcelain on top, heating and “fusing” the two materials together.


Although white in appearance, because of the metal substructure these crowns just don’t really look real, there is often a visible thin metal ring around the inside of the crown near the gums, and the porcelain is not bonded very strongly to the metal. After ten years the porcelain darkens and yellows, the gums can become inflamed because of metal allergies, and the porcelain chips and breaks away from the metal substructure. This creates food traps and reveals the unsightly metal underneath.

Today’s Crowns Are More Realistic And Reliable Than Ever

Porcelain Crown

Today, we rarely provide a porcelain fused to metal crown as a treatment option. Recent advancements in dental medicine have given us treatments that are:

  • more beautiful and natural looking
  • stronger
  • more predictable
  • more reliable
  • longer lasting.

One of which is called Emax, or lithium disilicate. An Emax crown allows me to be more conservative with your dental treatment while keeping more tooth structure intact. This decreases your risk of needing a root canal. Emax crowns also allow me to give my patients something that actually looks like a tooth. There is no metal, and the light passing through the porcelain behaves very similarly to light passing through a natural tooth. And, Emax is 4 times stronger than the porcelain used in PFM crowns, decreasing the risk of a patient breaking the crown while eating a normal diet.

Not All Of Today’s Porcelain Crowns Are Made With Emax

This is especially important when talking about teeth in the back of your mouth. These teeth do a majority of the chewing, and thus need a material that is stronger than front teeth.

Common materials used to make false teeth include:

  • Empress
  • a combination of resin and porcelain
  • Zirconia

There are more than 20 different types of what someone would call an “all-porcelain” crown, and each has its place in a treatment scenario, but your dentist should know when and when not to use each material.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a post of the most common of these materials and in which situation they would be best used. But for the meantime, you should know that my #1 go-to and most versatile porcelain is Emax. It’s strong, it’s beautiful, and it allows me to keep much more tooth structure for my patients.

Scroll through the before and afters in our smile gallery. Most of the restorations you will see are in fact made from Emax. Even veneers can be made from Emax. So, if your dentist recommends a porcelain crown, ask him or her which type of porcelain and get more involved in that decision-making process.

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