Crowns and Bridges
Crowns and Bridges
Dental crowns and bridges can be recommended for a variety of reasons, mostly however, they are recommended to restore a tooth to its original shape, to strengthen a tooth where a filling would be inadequate or to improve the cosmetic appearance of a tooth. They are an easy way of restoring missing or badly damaged teeth to their natural beauty and performance.
Crowns are caps made to fit over a damaged or weak tooth. They are often recommended following a root canal filling to protect the remaining tooth whose strength is often compromised by the extensive decay and infection that may have been present.
Your dentist will match it up to the shape and colour of your other teeth so it will look natural. The crown will probably last for many years, depending on the health of the tooth underneath.
The dentist will shape the tooth so that, with the artificial crown, it will be the same size as a normal tooth. Preparation time will depend on how damaged the tooth is and whether it needs to be built up with a filling first. The crown is sometimes held in place by a peg in the root canal if a lot of the tooth is missing.
Your dentist will use a soft mouldable material to make exact 'impressions' of the tooth that is to be crowned and the nearby teeth. A dental technician uses the impressions to make the crown the exact height and size needed. A thin cord may be used to hold the gum away from the tooth so that the impression is accurate round the edges.
A temporary crown made of plastic or metal is put over the tooth until the permanent crown is made. You can chew on a temporary crown but it won't be as strong as the finished one. When the crown is fitted, your dentist will make small adjustments to make sure you can bite comfortably.
Bridges are units of false teeth that are fixed to your teeth to fill a gap. A bridge may take the place of one or more missing teeth and the results can be excellent with good function and aesthetic results. With careful maintenance a well-made bridge can last many years. The bone in the jaw surrounding the missing tooth or teeth can continue to recede.
Why should I replace missing teeth?
Your appearance is one reason. Another is that the gap left by a missing tooth can put greater strain on the teeth either side. A gap can also mean your 'bite' is affected, because the teeth next to the space can lean into the gap and alter the way the upper and lower teeth bite together. This can then lead to food getting packed into the gap, which causes both decay and gum disease.
How are missing teeth replaced?
This depends on the number of teeth missing and on where they are in the mouth. The condition of the other teeth also affects the decision.
There are two main two ways to replace the missing teeth. The first is with a removable false tooth or teeth - a partial denture. The second is with a fixed bridge. A bridge is usually used where there are fewer teeth to replace, or when the missing teeth are only on one side of the mouth.
Can I always have a bridge to replace missing teeth?
Yes, if you have enough strong teeth with good bone support. Your dentist will help you decide the best way of replacing your missing teeth within your budget.
What are bridges made of?
Bridges are usually made of a precious metal base. If the bridge will show, porcelain is then bonded to the base.
Are bridges expensive?
Although a bridge may seem expensive it will last many years. It will also improve your appearance and bite. A bridge uses the considerable skill of the dentist and technician, and in this way, it's similar to ordering a piece of hand-made jewellery. The materials are also expensive so it's fair to say a bridge will not be the cheapest treatment you have ever had.
How do I look after my bridge?
You need to clean your bridge every day, to prevent problems such as bad breath and gum disease. You also have to clean under the false tooth every day. Your dentist or hygienist will show you how to use a bridge needle or special floss, as a normal toothbrush cannot reach.