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Understanding PFM Dental Crowns: A Comprehensive Guide

Whether you’re considering getting a dental crown or simply curious about the different types available, this blog post will provide valuable insights into the world of porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) dental crowns. We will explore their composition, benefits, drawbacks, the procedure involved, and everything else you need to know before making an informed decision. Let’s dive right in!

understanding pfm dental crowns

What is a PFM Dental Crown?

A PFM dental crown is a type of dental restoration that combines the strength and durability of metal with the aesthetics of porcelain. “PFM” stands for porcelain-fused-to-metal, accurately describing the crown’s construction. These crowns consist of a metal substructure, typically made from alloys like gold, palladium, or nickel-chromium, fused with a layer of tooth-coloured porcelain on top.

Benefits of PFM Dental Crowns

  1. Strength and Durability: The metal substructure provides excellent strength and durability to withstand biting and chewing forces, making PFM crowns suitable for both front and back teeth.
  2. Aesthetics: The outer layer of tooth-coloured porcelain in PFM crowns closely resembles natural teeth, resulting in a more aesthetically pleasing restoration than full metal crowns.
  3. Versatility: PFM crowns can restore teeth with extensive damage, such as large cavities, fractures, or severe discolouration.
  4. Cost-effective: PFM crowns are generally more affordable than all-ceramic crowns, making them a popular choice for individuals with budget constraints.

Drawbacks of PFM Dental Crowns

While PFM crowns offer several advantages, it’s essential to consider their potential drawbacks as well:

  1. Metal Visibility: In some instances, the metal substructure of PFM crowns may be slightly visible near the gum line, especially if the gum recedes over time.
  2. Potential Allergies: Some individuals may have allergies or sensitivities to certain metals used in PFM crowns, such as nickel. It’s crucial to discuss any known allergies with your dentist before opting for a PFM crown.
  3. Wear on Opposing Teeth: The metal substructure of PFM crowns can cause more wear on the opposing teeth compared to all-ceramic crowns or natural teeth. Regular dental check-ups are essential to monitor any signs of excessive wear.

The Procedure of Getting a PFM Dental Crown

  1. Consultation and Examination: The process begins with an initial consultation where your dentist will examine your oral health, discuss your concerns, and determine if a PFM crown suits your case.
  2. Tooth Preparation: During the next appointment, your dentist will numb the area around the tooth and prepare it by removing any decay or damaged portions. The tooth will be reshaped to accommodate the crown.
  3. Impressions: An impression of the prepared tooth and the surrounding teeth will be taken using dental putty or digital scanning technology. This impression serves as a mould for creating the custom PFM crown.
  4. Temporary Crown Placement: While the permanent crown is being fabricated at a dental laboratory, a temporary crown will be placed over the prepared tooth to protect it.
  5. Crown Placement: Once your permanent PFM crown is ready, you will return to the dentist’s office for its placement. The fit, colour, and aesthetics of the crown will be checked before it is permanently bonded to your tooth using dental cement.
  6. Adjustments and Finalization: Your dentist will make any necessary adjustments to ensure a comfortable bite and proper alignment. Once everything is finalized, your PFM crown will be polished, and you’ll be good to go!

Caring for PFM Dental Crowns

Understanding PFM Dental Crowns: A Comprehensive Guide
Caring for PMF dental crown

Proper care and maintenance are essential to prolong the lifespan of your PFM dental crown. Here are some tips:

  1. Oral Hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice daily with a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Don’t forget to floss daily to remove plaque and debris from around the crown.
  2. Avoid Chewing Hard Objects: Refrain from chewing on hard objects like ice or using your teeth as tools, as this can potentially damage the crown.
  3. Regular Dental Check-ups: Schedule routine dental visits every six months for professional cleanings and examinations. Your dentist will check the condition of your PFM crown and address any concerns.
  4. Protective Mouthguards: If you participate in contact sports or grind your teeth at night, consider wearing a custom-made mouthguard to protect your teeth and crown from potential damage.
  5. Avoid Excessive Alcohol and Tobacco: These substances can stain the porcelain portion of your PFM crown over time. Limiting or eliminating their use can help maintain the crown’s aesthetics. More about smoking and oral health.
Understanding PFM Dental Crowns: A Comprehensive Guide


PFM dental crowns balance strength, aesthetics, and affordability, making them popular for many dental restorations. By understanding their construction, benefits, drawbacks, the procedure involved, and proper care, you can decide whether a PFM crown is the right choice for your dental needs. Consulting with your dentist is crucial to determine the best treatment option for your case.

Porcelain-Fused to Metal Crown vs All-Porcelain

Porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crown:

This type of crown has a metal substructure covered with porcelain. The metal provides strength and durability, while the porcelain gives it a natural tooth-like appearance. PFM crowns are known for their strength and are suitable for molars and back teeth that require additional support.

All-porcelain crown:

Also known as all-ceramic crown, this type of crown is made entirely of porcelain or ceramic material. It does not have a metal substructure. All-porcelain crowns are highly aesthetic and blend well with natural teeth. They are commonly used for front teeth or areas where appearance is essential.

The main differences between PFM crowns and all-porcelain crowns are:

  1. Aesthetics: All-porcelain crowns have a more natural appearance because they do not contain any metal. They can mimic the clarity and colour of natural teeth better than PFM crowns.
  2. Strength: PFM crowns are generally more robust and fracture-resistant than all-porcelain crowns. The metal substructure in PFM crowns provides added strength and durability, making them suitable for areas with higher biting forces.
  3. Metal visibility: PFM crowns may have a thin metal margin at the gum line, which can be visible in some cases. All-porcelain crowns eliminate the possibility of metal visibility, resulting in a more aesthetically pleasing outcome.
  4. Wear on opposing teeth: PFM crowns can cause more wear on the opposing teeth due to the hardness of the metal component. All-porcelain crowns are softer, reducing the potential for wear on the opposing teeth.
  5. Allergy concerns: Some individuals may have allergic reactions to metal, making all-porcelain crowns a suitable alternative for those with metal sensitivities.

The choice between PFM crowns and all-porcelain crowns depends on various factors, including the location of the crown, the patient’s aesthetic preferences, and the dentist’s recommendation based on the specific case.

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