Not too long ago, extraction was the only dental solution available for damaged or decayed teeth. Fortunately, dental science has evolved significantly over the decades, and there are now several options available to treat damaged or decayed teeth without pulling them out. One of the most common solutions is a dental crown, but while crowns are popular, they might not be the best option for you. Here’s what you need to know about dental crowns and alternatives to dental crowns.

What is a dental crown?

Dental crowns, also known as dental caps, are custom-fabricated to cover and protect damaged or decayed teeth. Crowns are often made of porcelain, and they are cemented into place using a specialized dental glue adhesive. However, the process involves filing down the existing tooth to fit the crown, which means dental crowns are an irreversible treatment. They are long-lasting, but they do typically need to be replaced every 5-15 years.

Reasons you might need a dental crown

The main reason people get dental crowns is to repair a fractured, chipped, or heavily decayed tooth. The crown not only protects the tooth from further damage and decay, but it also offers aesthetic benefits. In fact, many people get dental crowns for aesthetic reasons alone, to hide a chipped, stained, or discolored tooth, which is a very common result after a root canal procedure. Still, dental crowns might not be the right solution for everyone. Here are some alternatives to dental crowns.

Alternative 1: Inlays

Inlays are most commonly used to fill large dental cavities. The main difference between traditional cavity fillings and inlays is that dentists used moldable composite material for fillings to fill the space, while inlays are pre-molded pieces that are custom-fabricated in a lab to fit within the tooth. Dental inlays work best when the damage or decay is located at the very top of the tooth, also call the cusp. During the procedure, the dentist will insert a pre-molded porcelain or composite piece that fits within the grooves of the tooth. 

Alternative 2: Onlays

When the damage or decay extends beyond the cusp of the tooth, dental onlays are custom-fabricated and cemented into place. They are used to cover and protect the affected areas, increasing the strength of the tooth to withstand biting forces. Onlays are often called “partial crowns” because they serve a similar function and cover a large portion of the tooth, but they do not require the invasive filing or shaping that is required with crowns. 

Alternative 3: Porcelain veneers in Tijuana, Mexico

Porcelain veneers are thin shells that cover the surface of the tooth to hide chips, cracks, stains, discoloration, and even minor misalignment and gaps. Veneers are strong and have a natural, color-matched appearance, and they don’t stain easily. However, veneers require a few extra steps to prepare the tooth compared to inlays and onlays. During the procedure, the dentist will remove a thin layer of enamel on the tooth so the veneer can better adhere to it with permanent bonding cement. Veneers can still break or chip under pressure, so it’s important to avoid chewing on hard objects.

Which dental restoration is right for you?

If you have a damaged or decayed tooth or you would like to hide stains or chips for aesthetic purposes, the professional experts at BioDental Care can help you choose the dental restoration that’s right for you. We also offer significant cost savings compared to U.S.-based dentists, up to 70% off certain products and services. For more information about dental crown alternatives or to schedule a consultation, call us at (619) 754-8508.