Crowns are coverings for teeth that protect them from fracturing, or keep fractured teeth from becoming damaged further. They can be used on both primary (baby) teeth and permanent (adult) teeth, and are constructed from different materials, depending on your preference for looks and any allergies.

Crowns are used to cap teeth that may have decayed or cracked. When a tooth has serious decay, there is a risk of it fracturing and breaking off. A crown or cap is placed over this tooth to protect it and hold it together. Crowns can also be used on teeth that are already broken to prevent further damage, and are sometimes used to cover a filling that doesn’t have a lot of tooth left around it. A lot of times, these are used to restore function to the teeth, such as regaining the ability to chew normally, but they also can be used cosmetically.


Crowns have a variety of uses, ranging from practical to cosmetic. Practical crowns take the place of a worn down or filed tooth to create the look that the tooth is whole. They are also used in dental bridges. Teeth adjacent to a gap from a missing tooth are filed down and fitted with a crown to support a porcelain tooth placed inside the gap. Crowns can be used cosmetically to cover misshapen or discolored teeth as well.

Materials and Construction

Crowns are made from different types of materials, which should be selected accordingly for the area where the crown will be placed and its use.

  • Temporary crowns are made from prefabricated stainless steel. These crowns protect the tooth in the interim while a permanent crown is created in a dental lab.
  • Metal crowns are made from gold alloy, palladium, nickel, or chromium. These crowns are extremely durable and last a long time while keeping nearby tooth wear from the metal at a minimum. However, some patients are put off by the metallic appearance, leaving them best suited for molars.
  • Porcelain fused to metal crowns can be color matched to existing teeth, but they increase wear on adjacent teeth. Aside from all ceramic crowns, these look the most natural.
  • All-resin crowns are the cheapest dental crowns and cause the least wear on adjacent teeth, but they tend to wear out more quickly and are more prone to fractures.
  • All-ceramic and all-porcelain crowns look the most natural, but are not as durable as metal or fused crowns. These are best suited for front teeth for their cosmetic qualities.