Crowns and Bridges
What are Dental Crowns?
A dental crown is a prosthetic tooth cap that helps to restore a damaged tooth to its original shape and size. This natural looking cap is bonded to the remaining tooth, completely covering the surface area. Dental crowns can be fabricated using different materials. You and your dentist will choose one depending on the case needs. Currently, most of the crowns are made using ceramic as they best match the natural look of teeth, helping to restore your smile.
When Would I Need a Crown?
Crowns offer a variety of restorative dental solutions. In addition to helping to restore and reshape cracked and broken teeth, crowns are also used to:
- Keep cracked teeth from additional damage
- Support teeth with large fillings
- Cap a tooth after a root canal
- Provide an anchor for partial dentures
- Stabilize supporting teeth for a bridge
- Cover tooth discoloration
- Improve tooth size and shape for smile makeovers
What to Expect with a Dental Crown Procedure
Receiving a dental crown typically requires two separate appointments. During the first appointment, we will prepare your tooth for the crown. This can include decay removal, removing part of the tooth, or inserting a metal post inside the tooth to help stabilize the core of the tooth. After this is complete, we take an impression to make a mold of the tooth and your surrounding teeth. We then use this mold to make the crown in our lab. After the mold is complete, we will attach a temporary crown to the tooth. Because this temporary crown is not permanently bonded, avoid chewing gum or eating sticky foods as this can pull off the crown. You may also experience hot and cold sensitivity while the temporary crown is in place.
When your crown is finished you will return to our practice where we will remove the temporary crown and place your permanent crown in place.
Possible Risks Associated with Crowns
Dental crowns are a safe and effective tooth restoration treatment option. Tooth sensitivity and discomfort are common after the procedure and while the temporary crown is in place, but this resolves quickly. If your crown sits too high, you may experience pain when you bite down. A quick adjustment by your dentist can fix this.
Caring for a Dental Crown
Caring for a crown is similar to caring for your other teeth. Once your permanent crown or bridge is cemented, it is important to remember that these porcelain restorations do not decay, but the teeth underneath them do. The most susceptible area for decay is at, or below, the area where the tooth and restoration meet. If this area is not routinely cleaned, bacterial plaque will form around the restoration, which often times leads to decay. This is the most common reason for needing to replace permanent crowns and/or bridges. Therefore, it is important that you maintain a diligent daily home care routine to clean your teeth and gums.
What is a Dental Bridge?
Dental bridges are a form of dental restoration designed to replace a missing or lost tooth. Your teeth are designed to support each other and when a tooth is lost, the surrounding teeth begin to shift and close the gap. This can affect your dental alignment and cause problems with chewing. A dental crown uses a false tooth to fill in that gap to help stabilize your teeth. The false tooth is held in place using crowns places on the surrounding teeth. Those surrounding teeth are referred to as abutment teeth, while the false tooth is referred to as a pontic.
There are four main types of bridges, with each one working a little differently. These four types include:
Traditional Bridges – This type of bridge uses a pontic tooth that helps in place by the supporting teeth using crowns.
Cantilever Bridges – A cantilever bridge only uses one supporting tooth and is often used to replace a smaller tooth.
Maryland Bridges – These bridges work slightly differently in that they do not use crowns on supporting teeth. Instead, a metal or porcelain framework bonded to the supporting teeth hold the pontic tooth in place. This is suitable to replace a missing smaller tooth only.
Implant Supported Bridges – This type of bridge is used when more than one tooth is missing. Three missing teeth can be replaced by placing two implants which can support a tooth missing in the middle.
When would I need a dental bridge?
Dental bridges are used to fill in the gap of a lost tooth due to infection, injury, or decay. While a lost tooth may not bother you when it comes to appearance (especially back molars), the gap created by missing teeth reduces the stability of your surrounding teeth. Teeth begin to shift and move to close the gap. This movement will change your alignment and can affect how you chew and speak. Alignment and bite changes can also contribute to headaches and jaw pain. A dental bridge helps to close that gap and stabilize your dental alignment.
What to expect with a dental bridge procedure?
For a traditional dental bridge, you can expect multiple visits before it is complete. During the first visit, your dentist will prepare the surrounding teeth for the crowns. Sometimes, the supporting teeth of the bridge need restorations to treat dental decay if any. A mold is made of your teeth and the gap so that a dental lab can create the crowns and the pontic. At this point, a temporary bridge is put in place while you wait for the permanent bridge to be complete.
Once your bridge is completed, you will come in for the second visit. At this point, the dentist will remove the temporary bridge. The crowns will be put into place, along with the pontic, and adjusted for fit. Once a proper fit is established, the bridge is permanently bonded into place.
Possible Risks Associated with a Dental Bridge
Dental bridges are a safe and effective dental restoration. However, as with any medical or dental procedure, there are possible risks. Because bridges require crowns on the surrounding teeth, there is the risk that these crowns can cause the healthy teeth to lose strength. If the crown is not in place correctly, bacteria can get underneath, causing decay and damage to the healthy tooth. If the surrounding teeth are not strong enough to support the crown and bridge, it can collapse. These are all things that will be taken into consideration by your dentist when making the decision to have a bridge.
Caring for a Dental Bridge
Your dental bridge is designed to look and act like your natural teeth. The best way to care for your bridge is to practice good oral hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing. This will help ensure the surrounding teeth stay healthy and continue to support the bridge. Regular dental visits allow your dentist to monitor the bridge and looking for any potential complications, such as loosening, before it becomes a bigger problem.
Because the crowns and pontic of your bridge are typically made from porcelain, avoid chewing or biting into hard foods, such as hard candy. These can cause breaks or chips which may require a full replacement of your bridge.
Full Mouth Crowns