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What are the alternatives to getting a ceramic dental crown?

Crowns made from metal, porcelain fused to metal (PFM), or composite materials are alternatives to ceramic crowns. Dental crowns, also called caps because they cover a tooth, help restore or strengthen a bad tooth and can also improve the look of your smile.

Metal crowns, meanwhile, have a gold or silver look depending on what type of metal they contain. Gold crowns are well-tolerated and known for being gentle on surrounding teeth, but they are also more expensive than silver. Both types of metal crowns resist corrosion, tarnishing, and breakage over time.

A downside to metal crowns is that they don’t look like natural teeth and the metal may show when you smile. Also you may be allergic to the base metals used in these types of crowns and may initially feel discomfort when the crown is exposed to hot or cold food and liquids.

A PFM crown has the double advantage of the natural look of a tooth and the strength of metal. A PFM crown is also stronger than a porcelain-only crown. A downside to a PFM crown is that a fair amount of the original tooth must be removed to attach it than with metal crowns. Also with a PFM crown, if the porcelain portion becomes jagged or rough it can wear down nearby teeth.

Finally, crowns made from indirect composites are the color of teeth and are made from a composite or mixture of plastic-like material that is very similar to what's used to fill a cavity. Composite crowns aren't as strong as porcelain, but  wear very little on nearby teeth.

The least expensive crowns are prefabricated ones that are not custom made for a particular tooth. Prefabricated crowns are made of plastic or stainless steel, seldom fit a tooth as well as a customized one, and are often used as a temporary capping for a tooth until it can be replaced with a permanent crown.

If you are trying to save money and can't afford a crown for a bad tooth, another less desirable but cheaper option is to have the tooth pulled. Keep in mind though that pulling a tooth to avoid paying for a crown could change the look of your smile and end up costing more money and frustration in the long run. The missing tooth could cause shifting and misalignment of your other teeth over time as well as make it difficult for you to chew on the side where the tooth was pulled. Before choosing to have your tooth pulled, you may want to ask your dentist if it would be okay to delay work on the tooth until you can save money to pay for a crown.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.