Dental crown alternatives. -

What options do you have? / What are the advantages, disadvantages and risks of each?

If your dentist recommends a crown, do you have any other options?

There's no other type of dental restoration that cups over a tooth in the same way that a dental crown does, and for this reason there really is no perfectly equivalent alternative.

As we outline on this page, depending upon your circumstances there are choices that might be made as a suitable alternative to placing one immediately. However, each of them usually involves some degree of risk.

Seek your dentist's advice.

It is your dentist's obligation to discuss each available option. You should never make a treatment decision unilaterally. Both you and your dentist, together, need to determine which alternative might be considered to be a reasonable approach for your situation.

Options / alternatives to the immediate placement of a dental crown.

Side note: There are variations on the technique of placing a dental crown. These are termed onlays and 3/4 crowns.

The premise associated with each of these is identical to that of a full crown, they just cover over the tooth less completely. So for the purposes of our discussion here, we consider each of these restorations to be essentially the same and not a true alternative.]

A) Have a filling placed instead of a crown.

While there are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration before selecting this option, having your dentist place a dental filling instead of a crown can sometimes prove to be a workable solution.

A big cavity repaired using a big dental filling.

Big fillings don't strengthen teeth like crowns do.

a) Fillings vs. Crowns.

Placing a filling as an alternative, especially one that will need to be quite large, typically isn't considered to be ideal treatment. You can't expect a filling to give the same type of longevity, or have as an ideal shape, as a crown.

Additionally, fillings don't provide the same level of protection from fracture. Without a crown a tooth may crack or break sometime in the future, possibly irreparably. However, despite these trade offs, a filling approach often works out just fine.

b) A crown can still be placed at a later date.

Certainly, having a filling placed now does not preclude the placement of a dental crown later. And, in fact, in most cases even if a filling has been placed, it would still be prudent to go ahead and have a dental crown made for the tooth whenever circumstances (financial or time) permit.

B) Delay the placement of the crown.

Delaying placement can provide an appropriate alternative in some situations. At other times, it might make the absolute worst choice. For this reason, you should never choose this option without the advice and concurring opinion of your dentist.

  • In the case where a relatively serviceable, although less than ideal, filling already exists, postponing a crown may make a reasonable choice.
  • But in cases where decay is already present or the tooth has broken, delaying your treatment could very well lead to more serious complications and even tooth loss.

C) Temporize the tooth so crown placement can be delayed.

In those cases where a tooth that needs a crown has some type of immediate issue that needs to be addressed, it might be possible for the dentist to temporize the tooth, thus allowing for an extended time frame before a permanent restoration is finally placed.

As examples:

  • If a tooth has decay, a dentist can probably remove it and then place some type of temporary filling.
  • Or if the tooth has broken, the dentist might go ahead and place a temporary crown. The crowning process could then be resumed at a later date.

While this approach may provide an adequate option, it's not exactly ideal. Temporary dental restorations don't have the strength, longevity or retentiveness of their permanent counterparts. This can place your tooth at some degree of risk.

If this alternative is chosen, you should ask over what time frame it would be expected that this temporization should remain stable. You'll also need to ask about what precautions you should take while the temporary restoration is in place.

D) Ask what financial arrangements can be made.

For many people, it's the cost of a dental crown that creates the barrier to having their work performed. And since this is such a common obstacle, it's likely that your dentist will have some type of financial arrangement or credit plan available so your crown can be placed now and paid for over time.

E) Confirm the need for the crown with a second opinion.

Different dentists have different skills and abilities, and also different training and clinical experiences. A second dentist may have varying views or insights regarding what they feel can be an appropriate treatment for your tooth.

There isn't always just one right solution to every problem. Hear each dentist out and see whose approach makes the most sense to you.

A missing tooth allows the neighboring teeth to shift.

The loss of just one tooth can significantly change your bite.

F) Have the tooth extracted.

This seemingly cheapest and simplest alternative is often the most expensive and worst choice in the long run.

When a tooth is extracted its neighboring teeth will tend to shift position, possibly significantly so. The resulting misalignment can have a major impact on a person's dental health.

Even the removal of a single tooth can lead to problems with chewing ability, jaw joint function, or create a situation that makes remaining teeth harder to keep clean (and therefore at greater risk for tooth decay or gum disease).

So to avoid these types of complications, your dentist will probably recommend to you that you replace any tooth that has been extracted with an artificial one. Replacing a missing tooth (using a dental implant, bridge, removable partial denture) can easily cost more than simply having a crown placed.



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