Damaged or missing teeth can be inconvenient and uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are simple and effective solutions available with dental crowns and bridges.
What is a crown?
A dental crown is also known as a “cap” because it completely covers a tooth. It can be used to strengthen a damaged tooth or improve the shape or color of a tooth. It is also often used to top off a dental implant to restore its appearance and functionality. Dentists may also recommend a crown to:
- Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
- Replace a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth remaining
- Restore a fractured tooth
- Attach a bridge
- Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment
Crowns can be made of porcelain or ceramic, which can be matched to the color of the surrounding teeth. They can also be made using gold and metal alloys, acrylic, and ceramic. Alloys are generally stronger than porcelain; they may be recommended for the back teeth. Porcelain bonded to a metal shell provides strength while still blending in with the natural teeth.
What is a bridge?
Dental bridges are used to replace one or more missing teeth. They are necessary because, if left untreated, gaps in the teeth can eventually allow the remaining teeth to rotate or shift along the gum line into the empty spaces. This can result in a bad bite and even lead to gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
Bridges are cemented to the natural teeth using a dental crown, with the prosthetic (called the pontic) spanning the empty space. They can be made from a variety of materials. The type chosen is based on the location of the missing tooth (or teeth), its function, appearance, and cost.
How are crowns and bridges made?
Both dental crowns and bridges are made in a dental laboratory using impressions taken of the tooth or teeth being treated. Before the impressions are taken, the teeth must be prepared by having any decay removed and getting shaped to make room for the crown to fit. A temporary bridge or crown is put in place while waiting for the permanent one to be created. Once it is ready, it is cemented onto the prepared tooth or teeth.
Crowns and bridges can last a lifetime with proper care. Just like natural teeth, they require regular brushing and flossing and dental check-ups. They may become loose or fall out if good oral hygiene is not observed and the teeth or bone holding them in place gets damaged by disease. Prevent damage to the crown or bridge by avoiding hard foods and chewing on ice or other hard objects.