Do you have a tooth that is chipped or cracked? Do you have an old filling in need of replacement? Is your tooth sore? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your dentist may recommend placing a dental crown over the affected tooth. Dental crowns are used to restore teeth when the amount or location of damage or decay affects the structural integrity of the tooth.
When a dental crown is placed, the decayed tissue is first removed to prevent bacteria from becoming trapped under the crown. Damaged tissue may be reshaped or the affected area may be built up in order to support the crown. The entire tooth must be reduced in size and reshaped so that a dental crown can be adhered over the top of the tooth. Once in place, dental crowns will protect the remaining tooth structure from becoming further damaged or decayed.
In most cases, dental crowns are placed over the span of two dental appointments. The first appointment is needed to prepare the tooth, take a dental impression, and place a temporary crown. Once the permanent crown is ready, the second appointment is needed to check the fit and adhere the final restoration. In some cases, same day crowns may be available and everything can be done during a single dental appointment.
Dental crowns can be made from a variety of dental materials, however there is one material in particular that tends to be popular. Porcelain fused to metal (PFM) crowns are often used in dentistry because of their advantages over other types of dental crowns. These crowns are composed of a porcelain exterior fused over a metal shell. Although the metal is visible towards the bottom of the crown, the gum tissue usually covers this so that only the porcelain shows.
To become more familiar with porcelain fused to metal crowns, let’s take a look at some of their advantages and disadvantages when compared to other types of dental crowns:
Porcelain Fused to Metal Crown Advantages
- Compared to other dental materials, porcelain and metal are both considered to be extremely strong and durable. This means that porcelain fused to metal crowns are resistant to damage and are long-lasting.
- Porcelain fused to metal crowns have a natural appearance due to the porcelain exterior. Porcelain can be color matched to blend with the surrounding teeth and also has a natural translucent look.
Porcelain Fused to Metal Crown Disadvantages
- For individuals who have metal allergies or are sensitive to metal, PFM crowns may not be ideal. In some cases, the metal ring at the bottom of the crown can also become visible if the gums recede, or pull away from the crown.
- The combination of porcelain fused to metal can be bulkier than other types of dental crowns. This means that more of the natural tooth structure will need to be removed in order to have the crown fit properly.
Porcelain fused to metal crowns are one type of dental crown used to restore teeth that are significantly damaged or decayed. While this type of crown certainly has its benefits, it also has a few drawbacks to be aware of. When deciding on what type of dental crown to have placed, it is important to consider both. Additionally, you should schedule a consultation with your local dentist to discuss your individual case and whether a porcelain fused to metal crown would be beneficial.
Dr. Paul H. Kim obtained his dental doctoral degree at the UCLA School of Dentistry in 2002. Upon graduation, he worked at a multi-specialty dental office in Los Angeles as an associate doctor until he opened his own dental practice in 2005. He has taught at UCLA Dental School as a clinical instructor. He has post-graduate training in implant dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics and sedation dentistry. He is an active member of several dental organizations, and he is currently teaching other doctors to provide quality dental services to their patients. He is passionate about helping people achieve great and confident smiles and good oral health.