Ceramic crowns are a customizable method of dental restoration that completely covers or caps the teeth being treated. These ceramics may be attached directly to the enamel of the tooth, or to a metal implant that is placed into the structure of the tooth itself. While these crowns may be made from a number of materials depending on the specific situation, ceramic crowns have long been one of the standards of dental care. Ceramic materials such as porcelain, pressed ceramics or feldspathic porcelain are all used due to their strength and similar appearance to dental enamel.
These crowns are used to provide additional strength to weakened teeth, to prevent further damage in teeth that have already decayed, and to improve the appearance of damaged teeth. They are produced through a complex and detailed procedure that creates a completely customized tooth for each patient. As the specific shape of each tooth must coincide with the surrounding teeth for maximum comfort and effectiveness, it is important to shape the new crown to match the old tooth shape. To accomplish this, a mold is made of the patient’s teeth. This mold is then sent to a laboratory, and the ceramic crowns are constructed specifically to match or augment the original shape.
The first ceramic crowns were patented in 1889 by Charles H. Land, and were known as “jacket” crowns. These crowns covered the original tooth, jacketing it with porcelain. While extremely popular, these first ceramic crowns had stability issues with microcracking on the inside. In the late 1950s, Abraham Weinstein invented the method of attaching porcelain crowns to metal implants. This provided a stronger structure, and allowed for direct bonding between the enamel and the metal implants using dental cement. Manufacturing developments in the 1950s and 1960s strengthened the ceramic materials used in crowns, which eventually contributed to stronger, more popular all-ceramic crowns.
Additional advances in ceramic crowns have occurred in the creation of the crowns themselves. The mid-1990s brought the first computer-aided ceramic crown manufacture. These processes have continued to advance, making creation of these crowns faster, more effective, more reliable and less expensive. The crowns can now be milled directly from an ingot of ceramic material, and based off a physical or digital mold of the teeth. The many recent advances in ceramic dentistry have provided a wide range of options that may be used by dentists to treat each patient’s specific condition.