A dental crown may be the right choice for you if you need to restore and protect a tooth that is misshaped, decayed, severely discolored, worn, cracked, or broken. Dental crowns are also used to cover a dental implant or hold a dental bridge in place.

Types of Crowns

There are three types of dental crowns: full porcelain, full-metal, and porcelain-fused-to-metal. The proper crown for you will be determined by your dentist. All crowns are permanent and with proper care can last between five and 15 years.

  • Full porcelain crowns offer the best match to your teeth’s natural color and are strong, resistant to wear, stable, and attractive. They are unlikely to cause adverse reactions because they are completely void of metal.
  • Full metal crowns are most often used on the back teeth, where the force exerted from chewing is the greatest, as they rarely chip or break. However, these types of crowns can cause allergic reactions and gumline discoloration in some individuals due to their metal construction.
  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns offer a natural surface color that matches the rest of your teeth with a strong metal substructure, but they require the removal of more tooth structure than other crowns and can cause increased discomfort during the application procedure.

The Process

Metal and porcelain-metal crowns

These types of crowns are created and applied in two visits. During the first visit, the dentist uses a putty-like material to make a mold of your teeth for the crown to be fabricated from and then applies a temporary crown to protect your tooth/implant and gums. At the second visit, your permanent crown is bonded to your tooth/dental implant and you’re free to go.

Porcelain crowns

These crowns are available in two treatment methods: CEREC CAD/CAM and Lava.


This method can be completed in just one office visit. Your unique crown is created in the office using CEREC CAD/CAM technology and is applied the same day.


This method can be completed in two office visits. During the first visit, your crown will be designed using our CEREC CAD/CAM technology to guarantee the highest level of natural translucency and a temporary crown will be applied to protect your tooth/gums. When you return for the second visit, your dentist will fit and permanently bond your custom dental crown.

A recent innovation available in the offices of some cosmetic dentists is the “Computer-Assisted Design – Computer-Assisted Manufacture” crown, or “CAD-CAM.” The company that is foremost in this technology is Cerec. This crown is milled by a computer to fit your tooth precisely, thus eliminating the laboratory step in manufacturing the crown. Examine the pros and cons of this system.

CEREC, A One Visit Procedure

To have a traditional crown applied takes two visits to the dentist. During the first visit, you will receive an injection of anesthesia so that your tooth can be prepared and an impression taken.  A temporary restoration will then be put on your tooth. A couple of weeks later, during the second appointment, you will receive another injection so that the temporary tooth can be removed and the permanent restoration applied.

With CEREC, the procedure is done in a single appointment, start to finish!

How The Crown Is Made

The CEREC Acquisition Unit is mobile and houses a computer and the CEREC camera. The camera will take a digital picture of your prepared tooth and this picture is used instead of a traditional impression. The computer and CEREC 3D software converts the digital picture to a three dimensional virtual model of your prepped tooth. Dr. Simmons then designs your restoration right on screen using the software while you wait. This software can assist with designing any single tooth restoration such as crowns, inlays and onlays, and veneers.

Once Dr. Simmons has designed your restoration (about five minutes), he clicks a button and the design data is communicated via a wireless radio signal to the CEREC Milling Unit. Dr. Simmons then selects a ceramic block that matches the shade of the tooth being repaired and inserts the block into the Milling Unit. The data from the Acquisition Unit is used to direct two diamond coated burs to carve the block into the indicated shape of the restoration. This process usually takes eight to 18 minutes depending on the size and type of restoration. After the milling is finished, Dr. Simmons polishes the finished filling or crown and bonds it into place.