Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

March 7, 2019

All ceramic vs porcelain-fused-to-gold crowns

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Dr. Hall
I am having crowns replaced over tooth number 4 & 5. There is, as I believe, no cosmetic value of using pure porcelain versus Crown Porcelain fused to High Noble. There is a significant extra cost of $200.00 per each pure porcelain. In general, would a pure porcelain fused to a High Noble versus pure porcelain be just as effective over the long term?
– Garry from California

First, I like to talk about terminology so we know exactly what we are talking about. We should be saying all-ceramic crowns, not all-porcelain. Porcelain is only one of various ceramics that have been used for crowns and even some dentists gloss over this terminology. Few dentists are placing all-porcelain crowns on back teeth these days because they are very technique sensitive and are much weaker than the newer high-strength ceramics, lithium disilicate and zirconia. The eMax crown, which I believe is the most popular crown being used by dentists today, features a lithium disilicate core with porcelain baked over it. Lithium disilicate has reasonable aesthetics—it is white and somewhat translucent—but it comes in blocks and is shaped by milling, so the technician doesn’t have the ability to manipulate the color the way porcelain color is manipulated. Porcelain comes in a paste and it is placed, shaped, and then baked. So the ceramist can apply various colors and translucencies of the paste in different layers over the lithium disilicate core with a great deal of control over the aesthetics.

My guess would be that your dentist is talking about putting all-ceramic crowns on your teeth numbers 4 and 5, which are the first and second premolars on your upper right. So your question is, should you get porcelain fused to high noble (otherwise called porcelain fused to gold) instead.

Cosmetic dentists consider upper first premolars to be in the smile zone on almost all patients. Practically everyone will show that first premolar prominently when they smile. It may not be prominent when you look at yourself straight on in the mirror, but it is very noticeable from the side. For me, I would not want a crown made of porcelain fused to gold or any other metal here because there will be a significant risk of a dark line showing at the gumline. The dark line comes from the metal foundation showing through right at the margin of the crown.

Behind that first premolar, in my smile, the teeth are all in the shadows, so the aesthetics is much less critical there. In my mouth, I do have a porcelain fused to gold crown on one of those teeth. I also have a crown on my upper left first premolar, and that crown is an eMax.

So my answer is that I disagree that there is no cosmetic value here. Having said that, if you were my patient and wanted the porcelain fused to gold crown on your first premolar, I wouldn’t fight you on that. But then I probably wouldn’t have the issue come up because I would charge the same fee for either crown. A porcelain fused to high noble crown is a premium crown, and I charged more for that than for a porcelain fused to noble (semi-precious metal) crown. But I don’t understand why the all-ceramic crown needs to be more than the porcelain fused to high noble.

– Dr. Hall

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About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

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