A porcelain jacket is an all porcelain crown used in tooth restoration. Crowns are known as caps to most people who do not work in the field of dentistry. When a tooth has received pulp damage from decay or injury there is too little tooth left to restore it with a composite or amalgam filling. In these cases, a crown must be permanently seated on the tooth to protect the tooth and keep it from decaying further.
There are metal alloy crowns, which are the silver colored crowns, gold crowns, and porcelain crowns. Porcelain crowns look like a natural tooth and the shade of the porcelain can be matched to the patient’s natural tooth color. Some porcelain crowns consist of porcelain fused to metal. A porcelain jacket, however is pure porcelain. The location of the damaged tooth in the mouth and amount of remaining natural tooth left to seat the crown to are determining factors in which type of porcelain crown can be used.
A total porcelain crown is not as strong as a porcelain over metal crown. A porcelain over metal crown is recommended for back teeth, where a patient bites down the hardest. It is also recommended when there is not a lot of natural tooth left to support the crown and in cases where the patient has had gum disease. The metal to which the porcelain is fused takes up room inside the porcelain crown. Therefore, more natural tooth must be removed to seat a porcelain fused to metal crown.
Porcelain jackets are advantageous for cosmetic purposes. They are the most natural looking restoration as light can pass through a pure porcelain crown as it does natural teeth. Light cannot pass through a porcelain over metal crown. Porcelain jackets are recommended for any front area tooth visible when the patient smiles if there is enough natural tooth to support this type crown.
The patient’s dentist will discuss a plan of treatment for the damaged tooth and will offer their recommendation. It is almost always better to follow the dentist’s advice. Porcelain crowns are expensive and almost all dental insurance plans require pre-authorization for placement of any type crown. The dentist will work up the treatment plan agreed upon and send it to the insurance company for review. When a quote of benefits on the desired work is returned, the dentist will contact the patient to go over the treatment plan and make the patient aware of their out of pocket cost.
Reputable dentists will guarantee their work if the patient has followed through with their recommendations. Most dentists will warn a patient of potential problems if they insist on using an all porcelain crown to restore a tooth for which it is not best suited. If the crown breaks the patient will have to bear the full cost of replacement.
If a patient requests porcelain jackets on healthy teeth for cosmetic purposes only, any reputable dentist will recommend porcelain veneers instead. A porcelain veneer is a method of bonding porcelain to a natural tooth to change the color, shape, or both for cosmetic reasons. Some patients are not aware of this option and I saw several patients request porcelain crowns for cosmetic reason only during my years in the dental field.
If you are contemplating cosmetic dentistry, call and set up an appointment to discuss your options with your dentist. Follow your dentist’s advice regarding cosmetic dentistry for healthy teeth or damaged teeth.