Restoring your Smile with Dental Crowns and Bridges
What is a dental crown and why would I need one?
Essentially, a dental crown is an artificial restoration that fits over the remaining part of a prepared tooth, like a ‘cap’, which is shaped like a natural tooth and coloured to match the surrounding teeth.
Dental Crowns are an ideal way to restore teeth that have been functionally compromised by decay or a very large filling, which is likely to breakdown or fracture despite our best efforts with a filling material. The advantage of a crown is that the entire tooth is protected and stabilised, as well as adding strength to root canal treated teeth.
What is a crown made of?
Crowns are made out of porcelain, metal or both. The most popular and aesthetic are porcelain with a metal free ceramic substructure. Porcelain fused to metal crowns are durable but not as aesthetically pleasing due to the lack of light transmission through the porcelain, and black metal margin exposure over time.
Would I need a post crown?
In root-filled teeth it may be necessary to insert a post into the tooth root before placing a crown. A post gives support and helps the crown to stay in place. The surface of the tooth may be removed down to the level of the gum.
A post can be made of prefabricated stainless steel which the dentist can fit directly into the root canal. Or a custom-made post can be constructed by a dental technician to accurately fit the shape of the prepared root canal. The post is placed into the root canal and cemented in position, ready for the crown to be attached.
How long will my crown last?
The longevity of a crown depends on how well it is looked after. The crown itself cannot decay, however, decay can start at the junction of the crown and the tooth. Oral hygiene is very important and a crown should be cleaned just like all natural teeth. Properly cared for crowns will last for 10-20 years.
What is a dental bridge and when would I need one?
Bridges are effectively crowns or partial crowns with an artificial tooth attached. All teeth associated with the bridge are fused together as a unit. Longer span bridges (4 or more teeth) have a shorter longevity due to risk of fracture. As with crowns, form, function and aesthetics are restored
Can I always have a bridge to replace missing teeth?
Not everyone is suitable, we will need to carefully assess your case to ensure we offer you the best method for replacing your missing teeth. A bridge is only suitable if you have enough strong teeth with good bone to support it.
What are bridges made of?
Crowns and bridges can be made from a variety of materials including resin, ceramic or a metal alloy. It is also possible to have ceramic bonded onto a metal alloy, which provides the best combination of strength and appearance.
How are crowns and bridges made?
Preparation of the teeth is required in order to create space for the crown or bridge to be fitted which involves reduction of the tooth size (usually under local anaesthesia) followed by an impression. This is then sent to a laboratory where skilled technicians will fabricate the crown. It usually takes two weeks to fabricate a crown or bridge during which a provisional crown or bridge is fitted.
Once completed, the definitive crown or bridge is tried in to confirm the excellent fit, harmony with the bite, and appearance, after which, it is cemented in place.
How do I care for my crown and bridge work?
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 crowned 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.
Very rarely ceramic on the surface may chip or fracture and usually this can be repaired. Regular check-ups will enable your dentist to detect any problems and recommend necessary treatment.