Damage to a tooth due to either trauma-related cracking or decay-related cavities can often be fixed with a dental crown. General and cosmetic dentistry specialists use crowns to strengthen an otherwise healthy tooth for easier chewing and a more beautiful smile. Crowns come in a variety of materials and each has its own particular pros and cons.
Nickel and chrome alloys are one such crown material. Here are a few pros and cons you can discuss with your dentist if you are considering this type of crown.
Pro: Very Durable Even on Bite Surfaces
Some dental crown materials can be damaged if used on a tooth that takes on a lot of bite force or grinding such as a molar tooth. But a nickel and chrome crown does not have this problem. A crown made out of this material can survive a lot of repeated bite force and grinding without risk of damage to either the crown or the tooth underneath.
This makes nickel and chrome crowns a great choice for those teeth that do take on a lot of force and grinding, which can wear through porcelain or even metal-backed porcelain crowns faster.
Pro: Can Protect Remaining Tooth with Minimal Tooth Shaving
Dentists need to shave down the exterior of your natural tooth to facilitate the dental crown. This prevents the bulk of the dental crown from making your tooth look abnormally large and helps with bonding the dental crown to the tooth. Some dental crowns are so bulky that excess amounts of natural tooth need to be shaved away to accommodate the thickness.
Nickel and chrome crowns, however, are fairly thin and require minimal tooth shaving. This allows you to keep the maximum amount of natural, healthy tooth. Keeping as much healthy tooth as possible gives a stronger foundation for the crown, which will in turn help protect that tooth from any further damage or decay.
Con: Look Highly Unnatural
Nickel and chrome alloy crowns are metallic colored and will look like a dark gray slightly shiny "tooth" in your mouth. If natural looking teeth are your primary concern, or the tooth needing a crown is in the front of your mouth, you might want to consider a different crown material.
But for rear teeth, like molars, the metallic crown is unlikely to be noticeable to other people. And the strength of the crown can make it a worthy trade-off for appearance.
Con: Can Cause Sensitivity, Damage to Neighboring Teeth
In some cases, a chemical interaction between the metal in a filling, the tooth, and the saliva can create short-term teeth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. The problem should go away but if you already suffer from sensitive teeth, take this into consideration.
There's also the potential for the nickel and chrome alloy crown to cause slight damage to neighboring teeth. Natural teeth are always slightly in motion and the crown material can cause friction-based erosion on nearby teeth. Again, this doesn't always happen and the problem is usually minimal but this is worth keeping in mind. Go here for more information.