Metal Dental Crowns

Metal Dental Crowns

Dental Crowns are prosthetics that your family dentist attaches to a damaged tooth. A dental crown may be needed in order to:

  • Protect a weak tooth from decay
  • Hold parts of a cracked tooth together
  • Make cosmetic changes
  • Hold a dental bridge in place
  • Cover a dental implant

Here we examine metal dental crowns in more depth:

Gold alloys – These crowns are a mix of gold, copper and other metals. In addition to providing a strong bond to the tooth, they don’t fracture or wear away the teeth they are affixed to, or the teeth they come in contact with. These crowns are sometimes called “Precious Metal Alloy Crowns.”

Base metal alloys – These crowns are made up of non-precious metals such as nickel and chromium that are highly resistant to corrosion, and make for strong crowns. These crowns require minimal tooth-removal prior crown placement.

Full Zirconia or Zirconia-based Crowns —   This bio-compatible metal has superior strength and has been used in human tissue with great success for the past two decades.  Zirconia crowns have demonstrated excellent results in the mouth — the gum tissue looks healthy and pink, and the tissue does NOT pull away from the crown, which can happen in other types of crowns.

Pros and Cons:


  • Metal crowns are durable and provide a reliably good seal against leakage — better than any other type of crown.
  • Gold crowns specifically are the longest-lasting crowns known to date.
  • Gold and metal alloy crowns are “bio-compatible” which means they are not likely to damage the opposing teeth. Damage to the teeth that the crown comes in contact with can be a problem with other materials such as ceramic porcelain, particularly for those people who grind their teeth at night.
  • Gold crowns are a good option for the molars, where the teeth aren’t likely to show.


  • The color of metal crowns is generally the biggest drawback, because these crowns obviously don’t look like natural teeth.

Base-metal crowns:

  • Crowns that use base metals can give the gum tissue a purple appearance. Some patients noted irritation and/or gingival recession.
  • Base metal crowns contain nickel, which can cause an allergic reaction in some people.
  • Some people believe that base-metal crowns, as opposed to precious metal crowns, may be toxic to the body and those individuals prefer to have base metal crowns replaced with a different type of crown material.

Dr. Keith Phillips has extensive expertise in creating dental crowns.  He has been an Assistant Professor of Restorative Dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as the Chief of Restorative Dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. Dr. Phillips returned to UW to become Director of the Graduate Program in Prosthodontics from 1996-2004. He is currently an Affiliate Associate Professor at UW, University of Pennsylvania and the University of Southern California. He opened his private practice in 1996. Distinctive Dentistry serves patients in the greater Tacoma area, and is located just off the freeway in Fife, Washington.

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