Crowns and most types of bridges are versions of semi-permanent replacement teeth. Dentures need to be taken out every day and cleaned, but crowns are bridges are cemented in place by your dentist. They can only be removed by a dentist, but with the proper maintenance of these replacement teeth, that may never be needed. Crowns and bridges can last a lifetime if they are properly cared for.
How Do Dental Bridges Work?
If a patient is missing one or more teeth, it can lead to several different potential problems in the mouth. The remaining teeth will eventually shift in the mouth, by moving into the empty gap. This can result in a bad “bite” when chewing. Over time, this can lead to a condition called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. A gap from missing teeth can also increase the risk of periodontal (gum) disease.
Bridges are an artificial replacement that looks the same color as the patient’s teeth and gums. A bridge can be used to replace a single tooth or several missing teeth. The purpose of the bridge is to fill in that empty space in the patient’s mouth. Your dentist will cement the bridges in place, either to the surrounding teeth or to implants that surround the gap in the mouth. The natural teeth or implants serve as anchors to hold the bridge in place.
There are several options for patients to choose from when it comes to the materials that bridges are crafted from. The type of bridge selected by you and your dentist can vary based on several factors:
- Function of the bridge
- Location of the missing tooth or teeth
- Cost of bridges
- Aesthetic appeal of materials
- Porcelain and ceramic bridges can be matched to the color of the patient’s natural teeth
How Do Dental Crowns Work?
You can think of a crown as a special “cap” that is fixed in place to protect a tooth. Crowns can be used to strengthen damaged teeth, and also to improve its shape, appearance or alignment within the mouth. Sometimes a crown is attached to an implant to serve as a replacement tooth. Here are some additional reasons why your dentist might recommend a dental crown:
- To cover and protect a tooth after a root canal treatment
- To cover a discolored tooth
- To protect a weak tooth from fracturing
- To attach a bridge
- To cover a dental implant
- To replace a large filling
- To restore and preserve a fractured tooth
Crowns can be created from a variety of different materials, depending on the purpose of them. The advantage of porcelain or ceramic crowns is that they can be color matched to your own teeth. Gold and metal alloys are another option for crowns. These are frequently used on the back teeth, because the stronger materials are good for support. One of the most common choices is a porcelain crown attached to a metal shell, because it is both strong and attractive at the same time.
How Are Crowns and Bridges Constructed?
Some pre-work on the patient’s teeth will need to be done before crowns or bridges can be fixed in place. The tooth or teeth need to be reduced in size, so the prosthetic can be placed over it. Once this pre-work is done, your dentist will make a mold or impression from the teeth. The mold is then used to create an exact fit for the bridge or crown.
The mold will be sent to a dental lab where it is constructed. Sometimes a temporary bridge or crown will be placed in the patient’s mouth, which the dentist will remove when the final crown or bridge is ready to be cemented in place.
Crowns and bridges can restore your confidence and your smile at the same time. If you think you might be a good candidate for a crown or bridge, contact our office to schedule an appointment today.