When it comes to dental crown materials, there are many different options to suit a multitude of different scenarios. Some, like full porcelain crowns, provide excellent esthetic results. Others, such as full gold units, provide extreme durability along with desirable tooth-like physical properties. However, what options offer both beautiful cosmetic results along with enduring strength?

For many years, porcelain-fused-to-metal (or “PFM”) crowns were the cornerstone of “form meets function” in crown materials. These units are made by taking an alloy metal core and attaching a thin layer of porcelain over it, resulting in a durable tooth colored restoration. Unfortunately, this process is not without it’s downfalls. The porcelain has a tendency to crack and break between the opposing tooth and the hard metal sublayer. Additionally, the alloy substructure is extremely opaque, and prevents the overall crown from having the translucency of a natural tooth. This detracts from the overall esthetics of the final product.

While PFM crown still have a very useful place in dentistry (and are still regularly placed at our office for various reasons), modern technology has provided us with newer and more elegant solutions. Today, we can offer Emax as a means of creating a beautiful crown or bridge with long term durability.

 An example of a finished Emax dental bridge (right) and crown (left)

An example of a finished Emax dental bridge (right) and crown (left)

Emax is a lithium disilicate material that combines the translucency of porcelain with incredible strength. On average, these restorations can withstand 360-400 megapascals of force before breaking. What does this mean? Essentially, you could hammer a crown made of Emax into a plywood board and pull it out without damaging the structure. This incredible resilience means that Emax can be placed in almost any location in the mouth with extreme confidence.

In terms of esthetics, Emax rivals porcelain in that it provides an incredibly toothlike translucency. One of the most obvious “tells” of a dental crown is poor transmittance of light. Crown that do not respond to ambient light like natural teeth are just as visually jarring as poor tooth shade matching. Emax offers this low opacity in conjunction with the ability to have natural artifacts “baked” into the crown’s surface. Surface lines, color gradients and staining can be added to the crown to blend it perfectly with the adjoining teeth. Overall, this step helps detract from the “chiclet gum” look that is imparted to certain crown.

Of course, Emax in only one of the excellent crown options offered at our office. While it has some great properties, it can be a poor choice of restoration depending on a number of factors. Your crown material should take into account mouth location, neighboring teeth and your personal expectations. We regularly work with a number of different materials because our patients regularly need a number of different materials. If you have any questions Emax, or any other materials we offer at our office, please let us know at your next appointment!

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