WHAT ARE CROWNS AND BRIDGES?
Both crowns and most bridges are fixed prosthetic devices. Unlike removable devices such as dentures, which you can take out and clean daily, crowns and bridges are cemented onto existing teeth or implants, and can only be removed by a dentist.
HOW DO CROWNS WORK?
A crown is used to entirely cover or “cap” a damaged tooth. Besides strengthening a damaged tooth, a crown can be used to improve its appearance, shape or alignment. A crown is also placed on top of an implant to provide a tooth-like shape and structure for function. Porcelain or ceramic crowns can be matched to the color of your natural teeth. Other materials include gold and metal alloys, acrylic and ceramic. These alloys are generally stronger than porcelain and may be recommended for back teeth. Porcelain bonded to a metal shell is often used because it is both strong and attractive.
HOW DO BRIDGES WORK?
A bridge may be recommended if you’re missing one or more teeth. Gaps left by missing teeth eventually cause the remaining teeth to rotate or shift into the empty spaces, resulting in a bad bite. The imbalance caused by missing teeth can also lead to gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
Bridges are commonly used to replace one or more missing teeth. They span the space where the teeth are missing. Bridges are cemented to the natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space. These teeth, called abutments, serve as anchors for the bridge. A replacement tooth, called a pontic, is attached to the crowns that cover the abutments. As with crowns, you have a choice of materials for bridges. Your dentist can help you decide which to use, based on the location of the missing tooth (or teeth), its function, aesthetic considerations and cost. Porcelain or ceramic bridges can be matched to the color of your natural teeth.
HOW ARE CROWNS AND BRIDGES MADE?
Before either a crown or a bridge can be made, the tooth (or teeth) must be reduced in size so that the crown or bridge will fit over it properly. After reducing the tooth/teeth, your dentist will either take a traditional alginate impression, or an electronic impression using an in office scanner, to provide an exact mold for the crown or bridge. If porcelain is to be used, your dentist will determine the correct shade for the crown or bridge to match the color of your existing teeth.
Using this impression, a dental lab then makes your crown or bridge, in the material your dentist specifies. A temporary crown or bridge will be put in place to cover the prepared tooth while the permanent crown or bridge is being made. When the permanent crown or bridge is ready, the temporary crown or bridge is removed, and the new crown or bridge is cemented over your prepared tooth or teeth.
CARING FOR DENTAL CROWNS AND BRIDGES
You know how important it is to care for your natural teeth with daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing to remove leftover food particles and bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. The same basic principle applies to dental work, including permanent fixtures like crowns and bridges, but many dental restorations require special care.
When you have a crown or a bridge installed, you want it to last as long as possible. This starts with observing proper oral hygiene practices, but you also have to be careful when it comes to your diet and how you use your teeth.
For example, you’ll want to avoid hard or sticky foods like ice, hard candy, and chewing gum that could damage or dislodge a crown or bridgework. With proper oral hygiene, regular visits to StarWhite Dental for cleaning and examination, and proper care, you can preserve your crowns and bridges for years.