Nowadays when it comes to cosmetic dental treatments, there are a variety of dental materials to choose from. Among the most popular dental materials used for cosmetic restorations are composite resin, porcelain fused to metal (PFM), and porcelain. Composite resin is an ideal material for direct restorations such as dental fillings, however indirect restorations, such as veneers or crowns, generally require either PFM or porcelain.
When deciding whether to choose a PFM or porcelain restoration, many people don’t know what the visual difference actually is between the two. After all, both types of restorations have a porcelain exterior. Nevertheless, these two materials have one key difference. That is that PFM restorations use a thin porcelain shell fused over a metal interior. Porcelain restorations, on the other hand, are exclusively made from porcelain and nothing else. Although they make look the same and have no differences on the effect they have to your oral health, there is one factor that you will want to consider when having a PFM restoration placed.
The same thing that sets PFM restorations apart from porcelain-only restorations is also the main thing you will need to consider. This is primarily because the porcelain on a PFM restoration becomes increasingly thinner as it approaches the gum line, meaning that the metal may show through towards the bottom of the restoration. As long as the gums remain in their proper position, this is not a problem, however, since this dark line is covered.
Unfortunately if the gums recede for any reason, this dark line will become visible and take away from the aesthetic look of the restoration. Not only that, but certain types of metal have actually been known to leak into the gum tissue over time. This makes the gums appear tattooed along the edges and can even lead to gum inflammation, which makes gum recession worse.
While it is certainly true that PFM restorations were highly common in cosmetic dentistry for a variety of reasons in the past, most modern cosmetic dentists are recommending pure porcelain restorations. This is simply because porcelain-only restorations are just as strong as PFM restorations while being more aesthetically pleasing. Additionally pure porcelain restorations are able to maintain this aesthetic appearance for longer than PFM restorations and are far less likely to develop a dark line around the restoration.
Since PFM restorations were so popular in the past, chances are that you or someone you know may have one. While there is no urgent reason to have this type of restoration immediately switched out, many cosmetic dentists recommend that their patients replace PFM restorations with all-porcelain restorations once the PFM restoration has worn out and is in need of replacement. Generally speaking, it is recommended to remove a PFM restoration before it has a chance to stain your teeth and gums, however even teeth and gums that have been stained can usually be treated to maintain a natural and aesthetic appearance.
As you can see, it is important to consider the type of dental material being used to fabricate your cosmetic dental restoration. Even dental materials that may look and sound highly similar, can actually have some key differences that can make or break your smile. Therefore, it is important to consider all factors before committing to cosmetic dental treatment. Luckily, our dentist is here to help you discuss your treatment options and available dental materials.