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Can I replace metal crowns with porcelain veneers?

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I have a couple porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. Over the years, I feel like their appearance has gotten worse. I think the metal is starting to show. It is becoming more noticeable and I think others will start to notice. I heard porcelain veneers are metal-free. Can I get my crowns replaced with them? When I mentioned it to my dentist, he said he could re-do the metal crowns again. He said they are much stronger. Do I have other options? Won’t the same thing happen eventually if I get he same kind of crowns again?

-Lily in Kansas

Lily,

Sorry to tell you that porcelain veneers are not an option to replace your porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns. Once a tooth has been prepared for a crown, there isn’t much natural tooth structure that remains. A porcelain veneer fits to the front surface of the tooth. A crown goes all around the tooth. If the crowns were removed, veneers would leave the back and sides of your natural tooth completely vulnerable and exposed.

Since the metal is showing and you are unhappy with the appearance of the crowns, it is surprising that your dentist isn’t considering an all-porcelain crowns. Traditionally, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns have been known to be the strongest solution, but now with the dental bonding technologies and techniques available today, all-porcelain crowns have proven to hold up even on back teeth. So it is possible that your dentist simply isn’t experienced or comfortable in using porcelain. If that is the case, it is important that you do not push him out of his comfort zone. Or you may be sadly disappointed with the work. The other thing could be that your dentist may have noticed signs of clenching or grinding. In that case, metal-based crowns probably do make the most sense.

It is also important to realize that no dental restoration will last forever. So, if you get the metal crowns again, your gums will recede over the years. So the metal will be visible again. When this occurs, the crowns need to be replaced so there is not risk of the tooth below the crown becoming decayed.

You may be interested in meeting with a cosmetic dentist to see if you can find some more aesthetically-based options.

This post is sponsored by Lexington cosmetic dentist Hamburg Expressions.