Dental crowns are used every day in dentistry. But like anything else in the field, no two crowns are the same. Each restoration is custom-made to meet the needs of the individual. Additionally, there are several different types of dental crowns. You may hear us talk about PFM crowns here at Lake Forest Dental Arts. What does PFM mean and who is this type of dental crown for? Why might you want it? To cut to the chase, keep in mind that PFM means porcelain-fused-to-metal. As for why this is an option, what makes it so beneficial, and when you decide it’s the right choice for you, we’d like to guide you through the basics!
Types of Dental Crowns
Before we dive into PFM crowns, let’s take a look at some of the other types of dental caps:
- All-metal: Widely considered the strongest and most durable crown, all-metal restorations are generally crafted from gold or a white-colored dental alloy. Unfortunately, these crowns don’t blend in with the smile. For this reason, many patients avoid this option.
- All-ceramic: Made with layers of high-quality dental ceramic, these restorations are incredibly beautiful and lifelike. They even reflect light in a similar fashion as natural teeth. All-ceramic crowns can be an excellent option for restoring front teeth (which are not placed under excessive bite forces). Unfortunately, they may not be strong enough to restore back teeth.
- Stainless steel: These prefabricated crowns are intended for temporary use. They are often placed in pediatric patients, or may serve as temporary restorations until final crowns can be made.
About PFM Crowns
Now that we’ve summed up the other types of dental crowns, we’ll explore PFM restorations. These crowns have been routinely provided for patients since the late 1950s – and for many years, they were considered the “golden standard” for tooth restoration.
So, what is a porcelain-fused-to-metal crown? The name actually reveals a lot: The crown is built with a metal base and porcelain is baked on top of it. The end result is a very strong and beautiful crown.
When Are PFM Crowns Recommended?
If you have already heard that porcelain crowns are strong, this is absolutely accurate. However, for back, load-bearing teeth – or for patients that suffer from bruxism – daily pressure may simply prove too much. If all-ceramic crowns were placed in a case like this, they could become damaged quickly under excessive pressure. To avoid this, a PFM crown is often the best solution. These restorations combine the extraordinary strength and durability of metal with the lifelike beauty of porcelain.
Advantages of PFM Crowns
We’ve briefly mentioned why PFM crowns are such a great choice for certain patients. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits. PFM crowns are:
- Durable: Because they are made with a metal substructure, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns are much stronger than all-ceramic options. Due to their resiliency, these restorations can be placed on front or back teeth.
- Natural-looking: Our PFM restorations are covered with high-quality medical-grade ceramic. This gives them a natural-looking, lifelike appearance.
Disadvantages of PFM Crowns
There are a few drawbacks to PFM restorations:
- The “black line” phenomenon: Because a PFM has a metal substructure, it can sometimes appear as a dark line near the gum line. This is especially true in patients who later develop gum recession. However, James Fondriest has a solution for this problem. Working with a world-class ceramist, he always requests that PFM restorations be made with a porcelain joint butt margin. This covers the crown with porcelain, all the way to the very end. As a result, the dark line is eliminated.
- Slightly less translucency: All-ceramic crowns have more translucency than PFMs. As a result, the light reflects down the root surface, much like a natural tooth. Because PFMs are metal with layered ceramic, they are opaquer. In most cases, however, Dr. Fondriest can make PFM crowns appear incredibly lifelike.
- Chips in the ceramic: PFMs are strong, but the ceramic they are coated in can still chip. That’s why it’s important to avoid harmful habits, such as chewing on ice, pens, or pencils.
- Erosion of opposing teeth: There is a possibility that a PFM restoration could wear down the opposing teeth over time. This is more prevalent in those with strong bites or those who suffer from bruxism. To prevent this, Dr. Fondriest can adjust your bite to ensure forces are equalized across all teeth.
During a consultation at Lake Forest Dental Arts, Dr. Fondriest will perform a full assessment. By closely evaluating your bite, he can help you determine if a PFM restoration is right for you.
Modern Advances in Dental Materials
There is a newer version of the PFM crown. This restoration is referred to as a POM (pressed over metal). They are constructed in an identical fashion. The difference, however, is that POMs use a synthetic ceramic rather than traditional porcelain, which is advantageous. In fact, POMs can address most of the disadvantages associated with PFM crowns.
How Will My Crown Look?
As with all of our treatments, we provide beautifully crafted restorations. A PFM crown at our practice will yield a natural looking finish with shade, shape, and specific dimensions matched to your smile. We work with an artistic eye to ensure there is no apparent margin. Instead, your tooth will simply look restored.
Contact Our Chicago, IL Practice Today
Come in for a PFM crown when you require a very sturdy, strong restoration with the benefit of a beautiful, flawless finish. Feel free to schedule a visit with Dr. Fondriest by calling Lake Forest Dental Arts at (847) 234-0517. We happily serve patients in the metropolitan Chicago area as well as those residing in the North Shore and Northwest suburbs.