Whether porcelain crowns or veneers are used to enhance your smile, the truth of the matter is no one should know that you have had any work done, just that you look great. Admirers should perceive only a subtle change, something they can’t quite put their finger on. In the end, it is you who will be exuding improved self-confidence.
Nevertheless, from a patient’s perspective, it is both helpful and important to know what modern dentistry has to offer. We at ARC focus on two innovative techniques and strategies to improve a person’s smile. In many instances these two restorative techniques can produce nearly identical esthetic results, even though they are structurally different. When pushing the envelope to satisfy esthetic dilemmas, it is necessary to incorporate the latest in ceramic technology in both porcelain laminate veneers and porcelain crowns.
Similar Yet Different
Dental porcelains are used to create replicas of natural looking teeth for both veneers and crown fabrication. Although they share similar visual characteristics with natural teeth, one technique will be more suitable than the other, depending on the situation. As both a healthcare professional and artist, a master dentist must take several factors into account when selecting which technique will provide an ideal restoration.
Veneers of Excellence
Porcelain laminate veneers are composed of thin ceramic layers that essentially replace tooth enamel. Similar to a contact lens for the eye, a veneer adheres to the outer surface of a tooth. Natural tooth structure must first be reduced by a minimal amount, approximately 1 mm or less of tooth enamel. This will allow room for the veneer to work its magic and restore natural tooth form, enhancing brilliance and exceptional beauty. Porcelain veneers are an excellent solution for many esthetic imperfections such as poor color, shape or contours, fractured teeth, tooth position, as well as some minor bite related problems. They are also an excellent option for managing superficial stains in teeth not responsive to bleaching.
Crowns to Cap it Off
A crown replaces the entire external form of a tooth, down to the gum level. Whatever inner core of tooth remains, “crowning” a tooth re-establishes its natural form, as well as its function (how it contacts other teeth). Whether from the ravages of tooth decay or from trauma, replacing large amounts of tooth structure is part of crown design. Crowning teeth can also create dramatic improvements for patients whose teeth have been worn by bruxism (grinding habits) or by enamel erosion.
Like veneers, crowns are also excellent for changing tooth color and shape; in some cases they can facilitate this change more easily. Porcelain crowns are generally necessary when more tooth structure has been lost and therefore more material is needed to replace it. Conversely, if more tooth structure needs to be lightened (because of deeper staining) and/or strengthened, a crown will serve as the restoration of choice.
New Ceramic Materials
Problems with porcelain restorations in the past have been in those composed of high concentrations of glass particles. They were brittle and had low tensile strength, and like glass, they were prone to fracture. One way of overcoming this has been to incorporate a core or substructure material made out of metal, i.e. cast gold, with porcelain facings. Unfortunately, while strengthening the crown, the metal tends to detract from the glass-like translucence of the porcelain and from its life-like appearance — not so bad for back teeth but not so great for front teeth.
At ARC, we use the newest category of all-ceramic crowns making use of an internal ceramic “core” made from “Zirconia” which adds significant strength as well as esthetic beauty. This polycrystalline ceramic core (poly – many, crystalline – a crystal-structure which imparts greater strength) is the same material that forms the basic structure of fake diamonds.
CAD-CAM (Computer Aided Design – Computer Aided Manufacturing) technology is another innovation in dentistry which allows extraordinary accuracy of fit and contour of crown restorations. ARC Dental has the latest Ceramill Map 400 Scanner and Milling machine, the most accurate CAD-CAM technology world-wide.