People get crowns for a wide variety of reasons. Whether it’s for a cavity or a broken tooth, they decide to get their gorgeous smiles back — with a tooth crown.
In most cases of a damaged or decayed tooth, dentists will recommend getting a dental crown. However, because there are many alternatives to it, it’s best to know what they are so that you can make an informed choice.
Some dental crown alternatives include inlays, onlays, veneers, and — the most affordable but the least desirable option — tooth extraction.
But most people go for a dental crown. When a dentist recommends it, most of us don’t even ask if there is a tooth crown alternative we could try.
Dental Crown Types
There are a few common types of dental crowns used by dentists all over the world. They include:
- Porcelain and metal mixture crowns
- Metal crowns and gold alloys
- Stainless steel
- Ceramic crowns
- All-resin crowns
When choosing a tooth crown type, it’s best to consult a professional rather than choose on your own. Each type has a specific set of features that are used for specific dental cases. When your dentist assesses the situation and comes up with a plan, they will recommend a specific type of crown or an alternative.
While crowns are quite useful, they can come with some disadvantages as well. For example, the dental professional needs to file and shape your tooth before placing the crown, which is an irreversible action. The porcelain ones can get chipped. Some may even wash away and allow the bacteria to enter the tooth, causing decay. Finally, a metal crown might start an allergic reaction in some patients.
What Are the Alternatives to Crowns?
As mentioned, the most popular alternatives to crowns are inlays, onlays, and veneers.
Inlays are fillings that replace small pieces of a tooth damaged due to decay or physical force. They usually match the color of the tooth, which makes them look as natural as possible. The inlay also fits the tooth perfectly, meaning it’s quite durable.
Onlays are similar to inlays, and a lot of people confuse them. The only difference between the two is the surface of the tooth each of them covers. Inlays cover a small area, while onlays fit most of the biting surface of the tooth. Onlays can be used when the damage is too large for inlays and regular fillings, but there’s still enough healthy tooth structure that doesn’t need to be removed.
However, veneers are probably the most sought-after alternative to dental crown work. They’re most commonly used on the front eight teeth. Veneers are rather thin, tooth-colored layers meant to improve the aesthetics of the teeth instead of improving the structure strength. They’re made from dental composite resins or dental porcelain.
The only condition to getting veneers instead of a crown is that the tooth has a big enough healthy surface for the veneer to be attached to. However, there are certain limitations related to veneers — you should avoid hard foods, such as apples, raw carrots, and similar.
What Are the Advantages of the Alternatives to Crowns?
A dental crown requires a lot of preparation before it can be fully fitted. Severely damaged teeth require extensive work before a dentist can give you a crown. But, in certain cases, alternatives can be used instead. When your dentist recommends something new and different, it’s usually because there are more advantages to it than getting a crown.
The biggest benefit of inlays and onlays is that fitting them doesn’t require so much tooth structure to be taken out of the picture. A tooth crown, on the other hand, requires most of the tooth structure gone before it can be fitted properly.
Getting inlays or onlays is much faster than getting a full dental crown fitted too. Regularly cleaning your teeth is also easier when you have inlays or onlays.
When it comes to veneers, their greatest advantage is that they boost the confidence of patients who get them. Having a bright, beautiful, and even smile is much more important than people with healthy teeth might be aware of. A confident smile is something most people notice first when meeting someone.
Different types of veneers require different types of preparation work done before fitting. Some veneers can get fitted on the second visit to the dentist’s office, but the typical time it takes to get the veneers done is about one to two weeks after your dentist does the prep work. Another advantage is that getting veneers requires a lot less recovery time than getting full dental crowns.
Getting a tooth crown is a common occurrence, but there are some alternatives you should know about before making your final decision. We’ve covered a few of the most popular ones, but you should always consult your dentist about your best option.
The alternatives presented in this article are all more affordable than a full dental crown. However, in some cases, opting for the latter is the only thing you can do to repair your damaged or decaying teeth. If that’s the case, your dentist will perform a complete checkup to assess the situation, do all the required preparations, and place a crown that will last you a long time.
Whether you’re getting a crown or any of the alternatives we have presented, it’s important to visit your chosen dentist regularly for checkups and take proper care of your teeth so that they stay as healthy as possible for a long time.