A crown or a cap is used to protect the tooth structure after root canal treatment whereas a bridge is prepared to replace missing teeth. Many patients are unaware that many artificial caps and crowns made of metal or lined with metal have a nickel component. Since precious alloys are used much less these days – most metal caps/crowns/bridges are made with what is called in local slang – ‘white metal’. White metal would mean combinations of alloys like cobalt -chromium, nickel chromium and/or others.
Nickel is a metal which causes allergies quite frequently. If your wearing artificial jewelry causes skin reactions- there is a likelihood that your gum may react the same way (though most gum allergies are relatively more subdued than skin reactions). However there is a way to eliminate the use of nickel and those are ‘All ceramic crowns’. These basically are crowns which do not have any metal component whatsoever – much less nickel. This means that the surface closest to your gum will be of the same friendly material as the rest of the tooth.
The next time you visit your dentist – ask about metal free crowns. Do remember when a dentist talks about a ‘ceramic crown’ he most likely means “METAL CERAMIC’. This means the outer layer is ceramic but the part of the crown that touches your tooth and is closest to your gum is METAL. Many patients walk into the clinic and claim that they have ceramic crowns – a simple examination is enough to tell the difference.
Another common mistake or misunderstanding is with the term – “METAL FREE crowns”. Again – metal free does not necessarily mean ALL CERMIC. It may mean Acrylic (PLASTIC) which is neither long lasting nor as friendly to your gum as an all ceramic.