Patients considering dental caps for health reasons, cosmetic reasons or both may be curious about other treatments that offer similar results. Depending on the reason you are getting caps, these may be viable alternatives:
1: Dental Crowns*
Dental crowns are not truly an alternative to dental caps--they are caps. However, many people get confused when they hear two different names for the same treatment, so recognize that any medical professional who offers to fit you with dental crowns will be able to provide the same results you expect with caps.
2: Dental Implants
When a tooth has so decayed or broken that there may not be enough salvageable tooth on which to put a dental cap, a dentist or cosmetic specialist may recommend dental implants instead. Dental implants are individual fake teeth anchored directly into the jaw line in a spot where there is no tooth or where a medical professional recommends removing the tooth and replacing it with an implant. People with large gaps may also be able to get implants to fill those gaps.
Most medical professionals will try to save real teeth whenever possible, as too many fake teeth can change the structure of the jaw and gums. Therefore, implants are likely not the best choice for people seeking dental caps purely for cosmetic reasons.
While not a solution by itself for chipped, broken or decaying teeth, aligners such as Invisalign or braces may be the best solution for people concerned primarily with crooked, gapped or misaligned teeth. They may also help correct overbite and minor underbite. Invisalign, a series of clear, removable aligners, may be the best option for adolescents and adults who want to subtly change the appearance of their teeth without calling a lot of attention to their mouths.
Braces and Invisalign may also be used in conjunction with dental caps in order to not only improve the shape and appearance of a tooth, but better align it with the rest of the jaw line.
4: Dental Bridges
Dental bridges, like dental implants, replace missing teeth and are used to "bridge" large gaps left by missing teeth. Patients whose teeth are too cracked or decayed for a cap may have them removed and replaced with bridges. Bridges may be used in conjunction with caps on existing teeth on either side of the gaps.
While caps cover the entirety of a tooth and therefore the tooth must be shaved down significantly, veneers are thinner porcelain versions of the cap that cover only the back and front sides of an affected tooth. The real tooth under the veneer must not be shaved down as much as it would with a cap. Veneers make the most sense for patients who want to change the appearance of their teeth (making them less irregular, straighter and whiter) and whose teeth are not overly decayed or cracked.
There are a number of solutions to fixing decayed, cracked or unattractive teeth without using dental caps. Be sure to review all available treatments with a medical professional and determine which treatment or combination of treatments is the best solution for you.