Crowns and Bridges
Crowns and bridges are used to restore and enhance teeth that are damaged, or to take the place of missing teeth.
A crown, also referred to as a cap, is used to entirely cover a damaged tooth. A crown not only strengthens a tooth, but it can dramatically improve a tooth’s appearance, shape and alignment.
Crowns may be used to:
- Replace a large filling when there is little tooth structure remaining
- Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
- Restore a fractured tooth
- Attach a bridge
- Cover a dental implant
- Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth
- Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment
A bridge is an ideal method to fill the space created by missing teeth. A bridge is one or more artificial teeth that are cemented into place using the teeth on either side for support, hence the name. This is an option for filling the space created by a missing tooth. A bridge replaces the missing tooth, both functionally and cosmetically. Bridge work is as much an art as it is an exact science. The materials used may be gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloy, or all ceramic material made to match your natural tooth color. The choice of material depends on requirements for strength, wear, and/or esthetics.
It is important that a missing tooth be replaced as soon as possible for several reasons. If not treated the teeth surrounding the gap begin to shift inward. Since teeth use their neighbors for support, if one is missing they begin to “fall” and shift into the open spaces. This may worsens the bite due to changes in pressure and can eventually result in problems with the jaw such as TMJ.
Bridges and crowns are made by first taking an impression of your mouth. The impression is sent to a dental lab where your crown or bridge will be custom made to fit your mouth and match your natural tooth color. A temporary crown or bridge will be placed into your mouth until your permanent crown or bridge is made. When the permanent crown or bridge is ready, it will be cemented into place. Bridges and crowns are very durable and can last a lifetime with extra care and by practicing good oral hygiene.
Types of Dental Bridges
A cantilever dental bridge is often used when there are teeth on only one side of the span. A typical 3 unit cantilever dental bridge consists of two abutment dental crowns that are positioned next to each other on the same side of the missing tooth space. The pontic is then connected to the two dental crowns, which extend into the missing tooth space.
Another dental bridge design is a composite bond, known as a “Maryland” dental bridge. This type of dental bridge is commonly used to replace the front teeth. The pontic is attached to metal bands that are bonded to the abutment teeth, and the metal bands are hidden with a white-colored composite resin.
There are several different types of dental bridges. The first is a fixed dental bridge, which consists of a filler tooth (a pontic) that is attached to two dental crowns. The dental crowns fit over the existing teeth to hold the dental bridge in place. The fixed dental bridge is the most popular bridge.
Dental Bridge Process
Dental bridges usually require two trips to the dentist’s office. During the initial visit, the surrounding teeth are numbed with a local anesthetic. The dentist prepares the surrounding teeth by cleaning any plaque or decay that remains and reducing them so that the dental crowns can be fitted. The dentist makes a mold of the teeth and sends it off to a dental lab, where the customized impression is prepared. The customized mold takes one to two weeks to return to the office. In the interim, patients are fitted with a temporary dental bridge constructed of acrylic resin. When the patient returns to the dental office, the dentist removes the temporary dental bridge and replaces it with the permanent one. The dentist then adjusts the dental bridge for the proper bite and fit, and the dental bridge is permanently bonded into the mouth.
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