Improving Your Dental Care

What Should Your Dental Crown Be Made From?

Do you need a dental crown? Maybe you need it to protect a tooth with a big cavity, or perhaps you need it to cover a badly chipped tooth. Whatever the situation is, you have a decision to make when it comes to the right crown material. There are four primary materials that most dentists offer. The following information will help you choose the right one for your needs.

Metal Amalgam

Metal amalgam is a blend of various metals including silver and mercury. It is silver in color, and as such, crowns made from the material are sometimes simply called "silver crowns." Metal amalgam crowns are durable, and they are easy for your dentist to shape. This material is less fragile than porcelain or composite and is therefore less likely to chip, but it can wear down over time if you chew on really hard things. The big downfall of metal crowns is that they are metal-colored. This may not matter for a tooth further back in the mouth that you can't really see, but most people do not want a metal-colored incisor or eye tooth! 

Since metal amalgam crowns are affordable, they are a good choice for patients on a tight budget. Many insurance companies will cover the full cost of a metal crown but require you to pay the balance of the cost if you choose a different material.

Composite Resin

Composite resin is the material used to make tooth-colored fillings. It's not as hard or durable as ceramic or metal, so it's not usually used for crowns that will cover molars. (Molars have to withstand too much grinding and chewing.) It can, however, be a good material for incisors and eye teeth. It's inexpensive, and dentists can typically make a composite crown in the office, cutting down on the wait time. With most other crown materials, you need to wait to have the crown made in a lab.

Composite crowns are often used on baby teeth. In this case, it's okay that the material is not the strongest because the child will lose the tooth in a few years, long before the crown fails.


Ceramic crowns are made from basically the same material that is used to make coffee mugs and plates. It's tooth-colored; your dentist can customize the color of the crown so that it matches your teeth exactly. This makes ceramic a great choice for front teeth. Nobody will ever know you have a crown unless you tell them! Ceramic works well on molars, too, even though you won't be able to admire its beauty in the back of your mouth.

The one downfall to ceramic crowns is that they can be a little brittle. Sometimes they crack, and your dentist will have to replace the crown if this happens. Ceramic is a bit more costly than either metal amalgam or composite resin, too.


Gold crowns are not as common as they once were. They are very expensive compared to ceramic crowns and metal amalgam crowns, and while they are a bit more durable, most patients and dentists agree that the extra durability is not worth the extra cost.

However, gold does have one main advantage. Your dentist does not have to remove as much of the underlying tooth to apply a gold crown. So if you have very weak teeth and your dentist does not want to remove any further enamel, a gold crown might be recommended.

Consider your budget and the importance of your appearance to arrive at the right dental crown option for you. Talk to your dentist for more tips and information.