Dental Caps vs Crowns: What Should You Know?

Dental crowns and dental caps are commonly interchanged nomenclature and can cause confusion amongst the public. Very few people actually know that both these terms are actually the same - both crowns and caps are the same and can be used interchangeably. Crowns are a term used by dentists whereas usually patients use the term caps. Let us discuss some facts about caps and crowns in detail in the upcoming sections.

So, let’s get started.

Dental Caps vs Crowns: Is There A Difference?

A dental crown and a dental cap are the same thing. Cap is the layman's term for crown – meaning that a “cap” is just another name for a “crown.” So, there isn’t any difference. 

Some even call it veneers caps because they "cap" a tooth technically.

A dental crown is also referred to a cap, which is a dental restoration type that fits on the remains of the tooth to restore its natural appearance and protect it from further damage.

A tooth needs a crown (or cap) for strength and support, or when the tooth is missing excessively for a filling. There are many ways to shield a tooth. Usually, a dentist covers the tooth with a material, which is either porcelain, metal (gold) or a mixture of the two.

Dental crowns offer both oral and cosmetic benefits, reinforcing the structure of the tooth and further, helping a person’s smile look natural again. 

Typically, dental crowns are custom-made to merge seamlessly with the patient's natural tooth. They are crafted carefully to match the surrounding teeth in terms of size, color, texture, and shape. It restores the integrity of the patient's bite. 

uses of dental crowns

Uses of Dental Crowns (or Caps)

As said above, a dental crown is mainly used to repair damaged teeth. Such teeth might have been broken, weakened, or chipped due to decay. 

There are various reasons why dental crowns may be created for a tooth. Generally, a dentist routinely uses them to:

•    Improve the appearance of the tooth
•    Protect the remains of the broken tooth from damage 
•    Support the denture or bridge inside the mouth
•    Strengthen and repair the damaged teeth
•    Cover a dental implant
•    Cover a discolored or misshaped tooth 
•    Shield a weak tooth 

Though some other alternative treatments do exist, there isn’t any dental restoration that can provide the same benefits as a dental crown.

What is a Dental Crown (Cap) made of?

Though there are different types of dental materials used for crowns, the most common ones include:

•    Metal alloy: These include materials like platinum, gold, palladium, and other non-precious metals. These can be either yellow (or gold-colored) or white (or silver-colored).
•    Dental ceramic: These include materials like zirconia or porcelain, which are colored to complement the surrounding teeth.
•    Porcelain-fused-to-metal: This is the combination of the above two, with ceramic (outside) fused to metal crown (inside). These are also called PFM crowns. 

If you have a temporary crown fixed when a permanent crown is being made, it is likely to be a composite or acrylic material. 

Also, make a note that a gold crown is never 100% pure gold because gold, in its purest form, is too soft and cannot do the job well.

Hence, gold is merged with other metals so that it becomes a strong gold alloy. Now, the actual content of gold here might be from 20% to 77%. 

Since gold is a precious metal, dental crowns that made of gold are expensive when compared to the ones made from metal alloys (non-precious). These are silver-coloured and often include cobalt, chromium, and nickel.

Which Material to Choose for the Dental Crowns?

There are many factors that you can take into consideration before choosing the crown restoration material. Based on where the crown is going to be located, the need for esthetics can be higher or lower. Some people may prefer to have a tooth coloured restoration even for their posterior teeth for the sake of uniformity and enhanced appearance. Teeth coloured crowns are also expensive but metallic crowns often last longer. Factors for crown material may therefore depend on following factors: 

  • Esthetics
  • Tooth position
  • Cost
  • Durability

1. Ceramic Crowns

A ceramic crown is shaped in a laboratory and is built layer by layer, giving it the slight translucent look, similar to the natural teeth. This feature makes it a popular choice, especially for front teeth. 

However, the disadvantage of ceramic material is that, even though it is strong, it is brittle when compared to metal. It is liable to chip or crack.

2. Gold Crowns

A gold crown and the ones made from alloy metals are more durable. It has the added perk of being more biocompatible with the teeth, meaning that a capped tooth should not cause any wear or damage when the person bites on to something.

However, the obvious disadvantage of a metal crown is its colour. Most people will not prefer a silver or gold-colored tooth that shows so clearly, even if its placed at the back.

3. PFM (Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal) Crowns

PFM crowns provide the strength of the metal + aesthetics of a porcelain crown. But they don’t look like natural teeth due to the way they are layered. There are possibilities for the ceramic coating to crack or chip. However, the metal beneath will stay intact.

How to Prepare for a Dental Crown or Cap?

Preparing for a dental crown normally requires 2 visits to the dentist. 

•    In the first visit, the dentist initial examines and prepares the tooth.
•    In the second visit, the dentist places the crown on the damaged tooth.

During the first visit, a dentist might take X-rays to check the tooth’s roots and its nearby bone to make sure there isn’t any risk of infection or decay. 

A dentist then injects a local anaesthetic in order to numb the region before the tooth is filed (this is done to make adequate space for the crown). 

As soon as the tooth is reshaped, the dentist creates an impression of the tooth with the help of putty or paste. This impression serves as the model for your dental cap (or crown), which is crafted in 2-3 weeks’ time. Meanwhile, the damaged tooth is placed with a temporary crown so that it stays protected. 

During the second visit, the dentist removes the temporary crown and places the permanent crown using a cement, making sure that the color and the fit is suitable.


Hope, you have now understood the difference between dental caps and dental crowns. They mean the same thing and are just alternate names. 

If you are planning to get your tooth a nice dental crown, then here is something to note. Dental crowns should be cleaned the same way you clean your natural teeth. Even though the materials to construct the crowns won’t decay, the tooth’s edge can.

Therefore, a patient is recommended to brush their teeth two times a day using fluoride toothpaste with an interdental brush.