Decatur, AL Metal-Free Dentist
In the past, when a crown was needed in an aesthetic situation, porcelain fused to metal was the restoration of choice. The porcelain was baked onto a metal foundation to give it strength. A few years ago, the technology was developed to bond porcelain to tooth structure, giving it enough strength to serve as a crown, with a dramatic improvement in the aesthetics. But even stronger now are the newer high-strength ceramics.
At Drake and Wallace Dentistry, we offer these latest high-tech, metal-free options. These new ceramics such as lithium disilicate and zirconia are extremely strong. Traditional ceramics are very hard, but they are also brittle. Under stress, rather than give, they will break. The newer ceramics will flex under stress just like metal, earning them the nickname “ceramic steel.” This enables them to be used for both crowns and bridges without any additional reinforcement.
Aesthetics and Metal Sensitivities
There are two main reasons people are interested in metal-free dentistry. The more obvious reason is the aesthetics. Without any metal, there is no need for unnatural-looking opaquers in the restorations and a natural translucency can be incorporated. There is also no dark line at the gumline that you see with porcelain fused to metal crowns and bridges.
The second reason is that people are becoming more and more aware of metal sensitivities. The Centers for Disease Control report that the incidence of metal sensitivities is increasing, and estimates that up to 20% of the population may have an allergy to one or more metals. Nickel is a metal that is used in dentistry, and it has the highest rate of allergy in the population. Chromium, beryllium, and cobalt are other metals used in dentistry that cause sensitivity reactions in some people. And, of course, many people are concerned about the mercury content of silver fillings.
Crowns and Bridges
Zirconia is an excellent material and very strong, and we use zirconia for some crowns and bridges. However, it does have some aesthetic limitations. While it is translucent and natural-looking to a degree, there are limitations in the manipulation of color in the material such that we don’t recommend it for any highly aesthetic situation such as a front tooth.
We feel that the e.max crown has a better blend of strength and aesthetics. It has a high-strength ceramic core of either lithium disilicate or zirconia overlaid with porcelain. The porcelain can be tinted and otherwise manipulated to give a beautiful appearance that can perfectly mimic a natural tooth.
While the American Dental Association assures us that silver-mercury amalgam fillings are safe, many people are still uncomfortable with the idea of having mercury in their teeth. Newer composite fillings eliminate the need for metal-based fillings and have other benefits that we mention on our mercury-free dentistry page.
Removable Partial Dentures
Traditional removable partial dentures have a metal framework made from alloys that often have nickel, chromium, and/or cobalt in them—all metals that pose sensitivity concerns. Newer plastics not only eliminate that risk but are much more aesthetic.
If you are interested in our metal-free dentistry, we would enjoy having you as a patient. Just give us a call, or you can fill out our request an appointment form and we will call you.