Base Metal Alloy

The term “crown” describes the portion of your tooth from the gum line up (or down) – in other words, the portion of the tooth that can be seen in a healthy mouth.  It is also used more colloquially to describe the dental procedure of having a prosthetic “crown” (also called a “cap”) placed over a decayed, chipped, cracked, or otherwise damaged tooth.

When the prosthetic crown is constructed predominately of base metal, it is designated as such because less than 25% of its composition is of the “noble” metals:  gold, platinum, palladium, and silver, and its predominant makeup is of chromium and nickel.  Patients with allergies to metals may not tolerate these as well as Gold, which has a composition that is over 60% noble metal, of which more than 40% must be gold.  Gold is more bio-compatible than base metals, and is resistant to corrosion and oxidation better than other metals.

The higher the percentage of noble metals, the less likely a crown is to corrode or oxidize.  A full, base metal crown is primarily used when the strength of metal is needed, and when repair is needed outside the “smile zone,” as with back molars where the chewing force is greater.

Alloys of non-noble metals, i.e., base metals, have a silver appearance and have high strength.  They often contain large percentages of nickel, chromium or beryllium, and varying amounts of silver and palladium or titanium.  They are also high in resistance to corrosion, durable against impact, and they are resistant to wear and gentle on opposing teeth.

Another benefit is that, like gold, only a minimum amount of tooth structure must be removed for this type of crown.  However, they do not have as precise a fit or the same wear characteristics as gold. Stainless steel crowns are not as resistant as other crowns, but they are cheap and practical in the short term. Stainless steel crowns are used as temporary crowns while a stronger, more permanent crown or other type of dental restoration is being prepared. They are also used on children who have yet to lose their first set of teeth, since those teeth are going to be replaced in the short term.

In general, stainless steel crowns are often used for children’s teeth because they don’t require multiple dental visits to put in place, making them more cost-effective than custom-made crowns. Durable dental crowns can be used on dental patients of all ages, and are used for a variety of reasons.  In addition to protecting teeth, they can fill in gaps, and increase function, and last but not least, they can also give the patient a beautiful smile.