Crown Technology from Past to Present

You may be surprised to know that dental crowns have been used for more than 4000 years! Believe it or not, dentistry dates back as early as 5000 BC, and even Aristotle wrote about the trials and treatments of tooth decay.

The first record of dental crown use can be traced back 4000 years to the Southeast island of Luzon. Philippine skeletons often included gold tooth caps and tooth replacements. The wealthy bragged about their crowns: they were often made of precious materials and had to be crafted by hand, making them symbols of wealth and power as well as functional prosthetics.

By 200 AD, the Etruscans were using gold and other materials to create crowns and bridges. Gold crowns and “veneers” were placed on teeth both as a treatment for tooth decay and as a way to display wealth and luxury. Etruscan skeletons also displayed artificial teeth held in place by gold wires banded to existing teeth – the first example of a bridge!

What followed was a period of experimentation in dental techniques that included dentures and replacement teeth carved from bone or ivory. In the 1700s, dentists even used human teeth to replace missing or broken teeth since they created a natural appearance and presented superior durability. The trend was short-lived, however, because the human body will reject the tooth, and hence these “replacement teeth” would fall out eventually. Fortunately, porcelain became popular soon after and human teeth fell out of favor as restorative prosthetics.

The crown – a cap used to restore teeth by completely surrounding a tooth that has decayed – became a mainstay in dental practice by the time Charles H. Land patented the “jacket” crown in the late 1800s. The porcelain jacket crown marked the beginning of ceramic use in crown manufacture, and after a few improvements made by E. B. Pauling, the jacket crown became a regular feature of dentistry in the early 1900s and remained in use until the 1950s. These early crowns suffered from microcracking resulting from the cooling phase of crown manufacture.

Dicor crowns were introduced by Corning Glass Works. Dicor crowns were cemented with zinc phosphate, making them prone to failure. It wasn’t until the 1990s that crowns began to be created without a metal base. This revolution in crowns changed the way we create and apply crowns, and gave rise to computer-generated 3D tooth restorations and other leaps in crown technology. Not surprisingly, a surge in cosmetic dentistry and interest in the appearance of our teeth followed soon after.

How We Can Help

Today crowns are a popular and effective way to treat a variety of dental problems that can result in missing teeth. At Downtown Dental in Charlottesville, we are proud to offer high-quality dental crowns to help you achieve a healthier, happier smile! Call us today at 434.971.7400 to learn more.