PFM Dental Crowns: Things You Didn’t Realize

PFM dental crowns in smile

You might find yourself at a crossroads when you are in need of a crown. You may really want a beautiful all porcelain restoration to maintain a beautiful and natural-looking smile after restorative care. However, depending on the location of your affected tooth, the restoration could benefit greatly from the strength of metal. The metal in a PFM dental crown offers superior durability and lasts longer than a full porcelain crown. It can be a great option for crowns on the back molars that sustain much of the mouth’s chewing pressure.

The good news? You can actually have both the strength of metal and the esthetics of porcelain! Porcelain-fused-to-metal (or “PFM” crowns) are dental crowns that are fabricated from metal and then covered with a thin layer of porcelain. However, some patients worry about having metal in their mouth. You may have heard some things about the dangers of metals, or you may just dislike the idea of having metal in your dental restoration, if not necessary. However, PFM crowns are safe and commonly used. Below, learn more about PFM crowns and why they can be an excellent option for you.

Benefits of Porcelain-Fused-To-Metal Crowns

As mentioned earlier, PFM crowns offer both the durability of metal and the esthetics of porcelain. Porcelain fused to metal crowns can be quite beautiful. The metal, supportive base of a PFM crown gives your restored tooth greater biting power, and prevents chips or cracks better than an all-porcelain crown. In addition, metal crowns disrupt the natural smile and are an obvious distinction between restored and unrestored teeth. PFM crowns are ideal for back teeth in order to maintain a natural-looking smile.

PFM crowns can sometimes last longer than porcelain crowns whose average lifespan is 10-15 years.  It should also be noted that PFM crowns are usually cheaper than porcelain crowns. PFM crowns cost, on average $800 to $1,400, while porcelain crowns cost $800 to $3,000.

thin black line at edge of crown

The old PFM crowns done on the back teeth have metal showing. These thin black lines of metal showing are common with cheaper dental crowns.

Disadvantages of PFM Dental Crowns

While PFM crowns are a great choice for many patients, they do come with some disadvantages. Namely, PFM crowns lack the superior esthetics of all-porcelain crowns. When it comes to restoring a highly-visible tooth in the front of the smile, porcelain crowns are hard to beat. Porcelain crowns can mimic a natural tooth’s slight transparency near the edges, and closely resemble natural tooth enamel.

Many patients are worried about metal content in PFM crowns. While safe for most patients, some patients with certain metal sensitivities to chromium, nickel, or stainless steel could have adverse reactions to PFM crowns that are cast using these types of metals or alloys.

PFM crowns, unfortunately cannot usually mimic the natural transparency of a tooth because of the opaque metal base underneath the porcelain layer. So while the color of the PFM crown may closely match your teeth’s natural color, the tooth may appear more flat or opaque than nearby teeth.

Additionally, some PFM crowns that are worn or improperly fabricated, may develop a thin black line near the gum line. This line can cause many patients to seek a replacement crown to remove its unesthetic appearance.

The Thin Black Line

One reason patients often tell us that they don’t want to consider a PFM dental crown is because of the “black line” that can develop at the gum line. While some PFM crowns will display a thin black line, others that have what is called a porcelain “margin” do not reveal metal even after gum recession or crown wear occurs. This is because special precautions were made when fabricating the crown, to ensure that the black line never develops (and is the sign of a well-made PFM crown). Our Lake Forest practice is based on a philosophy that includes smile esthetics as a major practice priority. This means that the choices we make and the restorations we provide will ensure your smile looks completely natural and lovely. We take special care to place PFM dental crowns with a margin, and without any obvious black line. This allows your PFM crown to look as natural as possible, and gives you peace of mind that your crown will not require continual maintenance to deal with black line esthetic issues.

We Rely On 14+ Carat Gold

While PFM crowns can be made from a variety of metals or metal alloys, our Lake Forest practice chooses to use 14 carat gold. Of course, you may feel like our use of gold instead of other metals is quite luxurious! However, since nobody is going to be seeing the metal, exactly, you may then find yourself why we would bother relying on this type of metal instead of something else. There’s some very good information here! First, unlike other metals, gold lends quite a warm cast that is barely seen through the translucent porcelain layers over it because it’s very easy to camouflage (unlike cooler tones). Next, gold is extremely biocompatible, which means it is much less likely to cause any type of irritation or harm to natural, organic tissues than other metals. Translation: It’s a safe, friendly metal for your mouth!

Why PFM Dental Crowns are A Great Treatment Option

At the end of the day, PFM crowns are a great treatment option for some patients, and the quality and appearance of the crown greatly depends on the quality of the materials used in its fabrication, as well as the skill of the dentist in placing the crown. At our practice, we proudly use only the best dental materials to ensure your restoration always looks great—from the time it is placed to 10 years down the road. Dr. Fondriest’s unique skill in cosmetic dentistry means that he can offer exceptional, detail-oriented care that focuses on beautiful results. When it comes to restoring your smile, finding a dentist who has skill and years of experience in crafting exceptional cosmetic results is crucial.

Receive Esthetically Exceptional PFM Dental Crowns At Our Practice

See our team soon to discuss the benefits of selecting a porcelain-fused-to-metal crown to restore and beautify your smile. Feel free to schedule a visit with Dr. Fondriest by calling Lake Forest Dental Arts at (847) 234-0517. We proudly serve the Chicago Metro area and patients from around the country.