You Tube
image description

What Should A Good Porcelain Crown Look Like?

Dentistry is a unique profession. We don’t just deliver a service, but we also deliver a product. Porcelain crowns, or caps, among many other type of restorations are delivered on a daily basis in a dental practice. So, what makes one dentist different from another? Why does one dentist charge more? What could the big difference be?

Here is a quick example of the difference between a good crown and a bad crown.

The sole purpose of a porcelain crown is to repair and preserve the tooth, mimicking its original shape and function. The color should match the existing teeth, so it blends in.


This is what we expect from a GOOD crown:

  1. Perfect Fit
  2. Matching contour to the neighboring teeth
  3. Straight emergence profile from the gum tissue
  4. Good contact between the teeth and the opposing biting surface
  5. Good color and stain match to neighboring teeth


Common errors seen in a BAD crown:

  1. Poor fit of crown – Results in recurrent decay, sensitivity, quick failure of crown.
  2. Over contoured crown – Results in inflammation around tooth, gum disease, recurrent decay and quick failure of crown.
  3. Crown fits on tooth like hat on a hat rack – Result is same as #2
  4. Crown is either too tight between teeth, too light or no contact at all – Results in food impaction, and consequent recurrent decay.
  5. Crown looks like a marshmallow or corn kernal rather than a tooth.


So now you know what a good crown should look and fit like. Now why are not all crowns made like this? Simply put, making a good crown is an art and requires a high level of skill. It takes time, and time is money.

The dentist needs to deliver a perfectly prepared tooth, a perfect mold of that tooth, and a perfect prescription to what he/she wants from the technician.

The technician needs to perfectly trim the model, perfectly build the crown on the model, and perfectly adjust that crown on the model. Then the dentist needs to try this crown on the tooth first, make any necessary adjustments, and then cement the crown perfectly. There is no room for error!

Preparing the tooth takes time and skill. Taking a perfect mold takes time and skill. The less a dentist gets paid for a procedure the less time he/she can spend on it. It is a simple matter of economics. It is a business. Running a dental practice is very expensive and there is significant cost involved.

Now, once a perfect mold exists the crown needs to be made by a highly skilled technician. The more skill the technician has the higher the cost. It is a very simple formula. You get what you pay for!

All these steps and requirements put together are what it takes to make a good crown. A bad crown is not much better, and sometimes worse, than no crown at all.

Look at the photos and see if you can identify the differences between the good and bad crowns. Then, decide which type of crown you want in your mouth.

Good Crown
Good Crown
Good Crown
Good Crown
Bad crown
Bad Crowns
Bad Crown
Bad Crowns
Bad Crown

I could literally post thousands of photos of bad dentistry.

The difference between a good and a bad crown is immense – the aesthetics are better, the fit is better, the longevity is better.ย  Would you expect to pay the same for a good and a bad crown? Of course not. A crown should last a very long time – decades. So, if the cost difference is less than a few pennies per day over the lifespan of the crown, why not get the good crown?

At Ideal Dentistry we only place good crowns because that is the right thing to do.

Keep smiling,

Dr. Chris

posted in Blog, Cosmetic Dentistry

287 thoughts on “What Should A Good Porcelain Crown Look Like?

  1. Lida

    I can afford to get maybe just the two crowns. I don’t want an appliance since my bite only needs slight rasing and I hear horrible stories about those orthotics permanently opening people bites or leaving them worse off then before. I also hear you can get restorations for bites without using them and by adding to the teeth via crowns bonding …your thoughts please!?

  2. Dr. Chris

    Dear Sammi. Texture does usually help a lot with appearance and light reflection but you are the boss and your crowns need to look good to you. These ridges can often be polished down if needed so live with it for a while and then decide. Ideally this would have been discussed before the crowns were cemented.
    Keep smiling,
    Dr. Chris

  3. Dr. Chris

    Dear Barbara…
    This type of dentistry is routine and a general dentist should handle handle just fine.
    The dentist needs to get the crown right without trying to correct it by working on the tooth behind it. Don’t let them touch the tooth behind it and ask that the implant crown be redone until it is right. If they can’t deliver a correct crown then you should get your money back and see a more experienced dentist.
    Keep smiling,
    Dr. Chris

  4. Dr. Chris

    Dear Ingrid. It sounds like the bite is not adjusted correctly and you are hitting heavy on the front teeth. He dentist needs to get this correct or the teeth will move, break or fail with none loss. It is not “normal”. It annoys me when dentists try to avoid diagnosing the problem once they collected their portion by calling things “normal”. If it was normal then the dentist should have told you your teeth would be loose when you are done and how normal does that sound?
    Get the bite fixed before it causes problems and get a night guard!
    Keep smiling,
    Dr. Chris

  5. Dr. Chris

    Dear Marcus. Often we need to adjust the fit until it is perfect. I send back about 1% of the crowns I want to cement to the lab to be redone as most often they are nearly perfect but even the best labs can make mistakes – or your impression could have been distorted. If the dentist was able to get the crown to fit correctly great, but if there was a gap then he/she should send it back to be redone. Sometimes we dentists don’t want to send the crown back to look like we did a poor job so we are tempted to just make it work but really we should tell the patient that it just is not perfect and we will redo it ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Ask you dentist and if you are concerned get a second opinion. An x-Ray should show how it fits if there was a gap.
    Keep smiling,
    Dr. Chris

  6. Dr. Chris

    Dear Lida. This is a complex issue and it would be impossible for me to give you a treatment plan with the limited information I have. But, here is the basic premise of what you need to do…
    First, the TMJ is the dictating force in designing how the teeth come together since we cannot change the position of a joint. Your teeth obviously are not in harmony with that position. So, often we use a night guard to slightly open the bite, remove any interferences and then determine where the teeth should be. Once the night guard has found a comfortable position (centric relation) then we see what it will take to make the teeth fit into that position.
    Over time our teeth wear down and shift, both of which can alter the TMJ position. When I rebuild smiles I often open the bite by working on all uppers or all lower, or both to re-establish that comfortable centric relation bite position.
    So, you need a sophisticated dentist to at least look at you and guide you along this path – drilling in a tooth or doing an only may make everything that much worse and cost you lots of water money.
    I hope this helps.
    Keep smiling,
    Dr. Chris

  7. Dr. Chris

    Dear Robbie,

    Sounds like you need a second opinion. First and foremost you lost confidence in your dentist and that is a problem.
    With regards to cementing crowns…. I am not sure what you paid for your crowns but my experience has been that cost is directly linked to quality, sorry. Time is expensive for a dentist and for that reason the cheaper the procedure the less dentist you get. The assistant will do more and more and the lab work will not go to a great technician/artist but rather something I would compare to a puppy mill. Sorry again, sore subject as I feel too many people are having these problems as quality gets worse, prices go down and the government tries to get its greedy hands into the insurance business.
    In your case the tooth should not have come apart (maybe the poorly bonded core came out) before cementing and the temporarily cemented crown should not have fallen off (most likely poor preparation design). So, to me it looks like you need to see a quality fee-for-service dentist (AACD accredited I would suggest) before your mouth becomes a mess. When poor dentistry goes bad, as it always does, the dentists answer almost always is a root canal or extraction. Ridiculous.
    I hope this helps,
    Dr. Chris

  8. Dr. Chris

    Sorry for your trouble.
    Let me address your issues one at a time:
    1. The crown margin should not be placed deep below the tissue, that makes things worse. Keeping the margin 0.25 mm above the tissue margin would be ideal.
    2. You should not be able to feel the edge of the crown, that indicates a poor margin.
    3. There should not be a black line. We don’t use porcelain junction margins (I sure don’t) but that is what it sounds like. Most dentists use zirconium or emax, both all porcelain. What type of crown is it?
    4. The bite or how the teeth touch needs to be perfect. It sounds like there is a problem with your bite and all my patients (85% plus) wear a night guard to protect their teeth and joint. Less than 1% of the crowns I place ever need a root canal treatment.

    So, you need to get a second opinion in my opinion. Root canals are not only costly but unhealthy. The problem is still there (probably due to the bite).

    Keep smiling,
    Dr. Chris

  9. Steve Brown

    I need advice. Two years ago my dentist removed an amalgam filling that was 30 years old, put in a composite filling. I went home and looked at the tooth, thinking I would see a pearly white tooth, but I noticed a line of dark beneath part of the filling. So, I called the dentist office and told them I thought he left behind decay. They said they would get back to me. They did, oh no, that is staining from amalgam. Well, it is two years later and now there is decay in that spot and the dentist says I need a crown. I don’t trust him now…. I have a feeling he did cover over decay with the composite filling. Too much of a coincidence for my liking. Thoughts? I googled cover decay with filling and there are dentists who do this! But, if a dentist is going to do that I would want to be told. Stuff like that bothers me, it is like shingling over a rotted house!! I don’t like it at all. But, it got me thinking what if he covers decay with a crown? I do not want a crown that fails or needs to be replaced early. This is a dentist who has a good reputation, however, I am not feeling confident and he seems to like to do crowns on people and other expensive treatments. Thoughts?

  10. Dr. Chris

    Dear Steve,

    If there was decay left under the filling you would probably be able to see this on an x-ray. Old amalgam does stain and we as dentists need to differentiate between “affected” and “infected” dentin. Dark color does not always mean it is bad in a tooth.
    The question is why after 2 years you have decay there…that is a problem. Your dentist should be able to tell you if this was from a new lesion or leakage under the filling – there always is a reason and you need to know.

    Secondly, a good crown works well but it needs to be a good crown. The blog above that you read does describe what a good crown looks liek so study this and discuss with your dentist prior to getting it done.

    I hope this helps.

    Keep smiling,

    Dr. Chris

  11. Dr. Chris

    Dear Steve,
    So, stain under a filling is possible and can make a filling look a little darker if it is thin. Amalgam, nasty things they are, can leave a dis colored tooth that is pretty healthy so leaving the stain is ok.
    That being said, the filling should be thick enough for strength and if a good “dentin” colored base is used you really should not see the color. Many dentists use “enamel” colored fillings all the time which results in translucent and consequent gray/dark teeth.
    Now the decay is a different story. 2 years is a long time and many things can happen in hat timeframe. It is impossible for me to comment on decay on a 2 year old filling as there are too many variables but if the dentist is suggesting a crown now then the filling must have been pretty large. Also amalgams fracture teeth so it is likely that a fracture was present allow bacteria into the tooth and this results in decay.
    A good crown is key and you are reading the right blog posts to understand what you need to look for there.

    I hope this helps.

    Keep smiling,
    Dr. Chris

  12. Steve Brown

    Thanks for the responses it all makes sense and I will make sure that I get a good result if I do get a crown.

  13. Emily Kay

    About a month ago my dentist placed a PFM crown for my implant on my 2nd molar. After reading the disadvantages of PFM, and advantages of zirconia crown, I wanted to go back and replace my crown to the zirconia crown. Do you think it’s worth replacing my PFM or should I wait until it’s dead then replace it?

    Thank you!

  14. Dr. Chris

    Hello Emily,
    For implant crowns different rules apply in my opinion. A PFM for an implant crown is a good option as long as the dentist used quality gold. As a matter of fact, while I do use zirconium at times for implant crowns I am pretty sure a metal supported crown will be stronger and last longer since zirconium can fracture.
    For my implant crowns I like to use the screw retained system whenever possible and I am using both zirconium and gold at times…my lab feels the zirconium will be just as strong but I feel the jury is still out.
    In your case I would leave it ๐Ÿ™‚

    Keep smiling,
    Dr. Chris

  15. Dr. Chris

    Dear Julia. Looks like I missed your question, sorry. Zirconium would mask better and can look great but requires a more retentive crown preparation design! I hope at this point you found something you like. I am thinking of creating a recommended lab list on my site to help patients pick good labs ๐Ÿ™‚

    Keep smiling,
    Dr. Chris

  16. Dr. Chris

    Hello Noor. Retainers come in many different designs and a good impression is always important. I would suggest you talk to your orthodontist about your shifting teeth so they can adjust the retainer or make a different one.

    Keep smiling,
    Dr Chris

  17. Dr. Chris

    Dear R Nash. A correct bite is critical and you want to make sure it is adjusted until it feels right. There are many reasons why he bite could be off but don’t settle for a bad bite. You also do need to have the teeth polished after each adjustment.
    Keep smiling,
    Dr chris

  18. Dr. Chris

    Sorry Julia, I hope you find a good dentist in Canada. I would check with the Canadian Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
    Keep smiling,
    Dr Chris

  19. Dr. Chris

    Dear Jean. You need a “plan” of where your mouth is at. You should be very aware of what shape each tooth is in and what your options are. A food trap is not acceptable so this makes me question the quality of dentistry you received… A new dentist that tells you exactly where you stand would work but you also need to prepare yourself to pay about double…
    Keep smiling,
    Dr Chris

  20. Dr. Chris

    Dear Shirley. Most dentists do not pay for any treatment you may incur due to their dentistry. If you feel the work is inferior then you need to get his confirmed with a second opinion and often you will need to go through peer review to get a final answer. Best to just stick with a top dentist and do it right the first time!
    Keep smiling,
    Dr Chris

  21. Dr. Chris

    Dear Kim. The silver material is probably metal that the porcelain was built on. There are many types of crowns and this is one that most dentists use (not me). It is not very esthetic and if it is a porcelain junction margin then it tends to be rough as well. These type of crowns tend to be cheaper but I always recommend using the best materials possible. It will probably work for you but your dentist should have also informed you.
    Keep smiling,
    Dr Chris

  22. Dr. Chris

    Dear Robbie. I am sorry you had a bad dental experience. I can only attest to the type of dentistry I and other quality de toast provide and we would not have dental assistants cement crowns – not sure that is even legal. Anyhow, you unfortunately have little to gain by trying not to pay for the root canal and if you feel the work is really bad you would need to get a second opinion and then go through peer review. It may be just easier to find a dentist you have faith in!
    Keep smiling,
    Dr Chris

  23. Kim Vargo

    Hello Dr. Chris. I am hoping you will be able to help me. The back story to leading to current issue: I have been dealing with a crown issue (#14 molar). The original older crown had shifted a bit and a sharp edge was hitting my tongue. The Dental Director (aka Manager) of my group dental practice attemped to take the nib off with a drill (not a smothing bit) two times. After the second attempt it was obvious that he had overdone it, and a channel next to the molar behind it, where food and liquids freely flowed. He then said I would have to get a new crown (for which I had to pay a $200 co-payment). Another dentist in the practice removed the old crown, making the impression for the temporary (based on the impression of the old, now badly shaped crown) and I was very uncomfortable, still had an open channel/air pocket between the teeth, and I got an infection of the gums & was prescribed antibiotics. The new crown was placed, and I heard a “ping” when I was told to bite down. I mentioned this to the dentist, who said “oh, don’t tell me that”. He inspected things and removed excess adhesive and sent me on my way. I was numb at the time so I was clueless until later, when I realized something was very wrong. I had pain at the fracture site, and there still was a channel/air pocket between the teeth. After examination by the Dental Director, he determined that the crown had fractured, causing a gap on the exterior gumline. The dentist told me that the channel/air pocket issue would be fixed with the new crown. On to next appointment crown replacement. Different dentist did it this time and I was hoping for a great result, as he assured me of his years of experience. He took the fractured crown off made a temporary, and again, I got a gum infection shortly afterward. At urgent visit to have it looked at, was again given antibiotics. Again I was told that the issue between the molars of a channel/air pocket would be corrected with the new crown. I told the Dental Director that my cousin recently had a crown done, and the dentist used a temporary adhesive at first to be sure she was happy before permanently setting her crown. He said, “Sure, we can do that.” When I had my appointment to get the my current permanent crown, the dentist setting it refused use temporary adhesive. Said it could not be used with an all porcelain crown. So NOW, I have my current replacement crown I am STILL having an issue that is related to a channel/air pocket between the teeth. The air pocket is in the upper gums, and builds up pressure at times. It can be painful, and it is very distracting. It is not relieved by flossing. Brushing sometimes relieves it a little. Using a dental pick sometimes allows some of the trapped air to escape along the gumline of teeth in along the side and more forward. I have had 2 chunks of what I believe are old crown or tooth fragments as well as a skinny sliver of tooth come out of the channel as well. I went back for an urgent visit, was told I now needed to see the periodontist – first appointment, 2 weeks later. When date came, he had to reschedule. I went for urgent visit with Dental Director – he saw nothing. Refutes the possibility of having an air pocket. Finally saw periodontist yesterday, who said it was not perio-issue. (However, his own personal female dental assistant seemed to understand my explanation, and even mentioned what kind of perio-pocket issue she thought might be happening, but her idea was summarily dismissed.) The Dental Director then said to me, “Everything looks great, nothings amiss, there’s nothing more we can do for you.” Well I am still very uncomfortable, with a feeling of trapped air up in the gums and at times a stabbing sensation. Mind you, there is no pain in the actual teeth. Can you shed some light on what should be done to remedy this? Do you think I may have fragments still floating around in the upper gums? Should they remove the filling from the tooth behind the crown to see if there is a contributing issue there? Should I allow them to replace this crown AGAIN? And pray for a successful outcome? Thank you for your time. I know that this is long winded, but wanted to give you the details. PS- A friend works for a dentist who did a courtesy look and xray. He feels the boarders are probably bad at a minimum, and that the crown is a bit bulky. His feeling is a replacement.

  24. Dr. Chris

    This was quite a long explanation of a unique dental problem ๐Ÿ™‚

    First, I can’t really give you much of a diagnosis on an air pocket situation as this is not something I have seen. With all the trouble you have gone through I would make sense for you to simply get a refund and go to a top fee for service dentist that is highly experienced such as an AACD accredited cosmetic dentist. This would of course cost a lot more but the final result surely would be significantly better.


    Dr Chris

  25. Kim Vargo

    Thank you for that. I have filed a complaint with the management of my dental practice and am awaiting their response. I believe that a will designed and fitted crown should not have such an issue. (The air pocket is a constant distraction, affects my speech and my sleep!) Wish me luck and thanks again!

  26. Dr. Chris

    Good job :). And, good luck!

  27. Kristopher

    Hi Dr. Chris. Can I send you a photo through email?. Regarding the crowning skill of my dentist.

  28. Briana

    My zirconia crown teeth moves when I touch it with my fingers! Is it normal or should I go to the dentist because it may fall???

  29. Dr. Chris

    There are several reasons why your crown could be moving. One, the bite could be off and you are hitting it too hard. Secondly, you could have bone loss. Third, you could have an infection.
    Either way you need to see your dentist!

  30. Vince

    Five years ago I had a root canal on #15 after part of it broke off around a failed amalgam filling, The tooth was then crowned. Unfortunately, the crown was too high, which eventually led to severe, almost blinding pain after two years. The dentist ground the crown down, but it never felt right. Yesterday, the tooth broke off at the gum line; the post was inside the crowned piece that broke off.

    My question — is this failure to be expected or could the tooth have been weakened to the point of breaking as a result of the ill-fitting crown?

  31. Dr. Chris

    Dear Vince,

    A root canal makes a tooth more fragile as it is “dry”. There could have been micro fracture in the root which would proliferate due to the tooth hitting too heavy. So, in my opinion a good fitting crown is paramount for the longevity of the tooth ๐Ÿ™‚ I suppose that answers your question with a yes!

    Keep smiling,

    Dr. Chris

  32. mat


    I have been through a dental implant in my lower jaws molar teeth, 3rd from the last.
    Just 10 day earlier, my dentist fitted the crown. Although crown just fit well but it is about 6-7 mm smaller(in height) than ajacent teeth. Is is normal. (But it looks akward when I look in the mirror)

    Please reply

  33. Dr. Chris

    An implant crown should only be a tiny bit lower, barely noticeable. So, no, 6-7mm would be really bad. When I restore an implant crown I usually would leave less than 0.5mm open clearance. This is checked by having the patient grind heavily and have the implant crown barely touch when clenching.
    I hope this helps,
    Dr. Chris

  34. Dr. Chris

    I am sorry, looks like my reply did not go through. Here it is again!
    The implant crown should be very similar to the regular crown except there should be no contact until the teeth actually clench together. This is usually less than 0.5mm so 6-7mm would be huge! Send me a photo or get it looked at by another dentist soon…
    Dr. Chris

  35. Eric Weimer

    Know of any good second opinions in Maryland Annapolis area

  36. Dr. Chris

    Sorry, I don’t. What are you looking for? While new patient second opinion or specific dental problem second opinion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *