Crowns and bridges may be necessary together or separately, depending upon the patient’s need. Crowns can serve several purposes and one of those is in conjunction with bridges.
Crowns may be used in the case of a weakened, broken, or cracked tooth. In these cases, a filling is not enough to repair the damage from decay or breakage. Teeth that are severely worn down may also require a crown to return them to optimal function. Crowns may support filled teeth with little of the original tooth left. Esthetically, crowns can cover issues with teeth that are not pleasing in appearance or may require slight shape modification. And, as mentioned, crowns are used in conjunction with dental bridges.
In the case of a tooth with a large break or crack, or with extensive decay, a dentist may choose to use a crown to restore the tooth. The tooth that remains after filing away the decay or broken area is then covered with a crown made of metal or tooth-colored porcelain.
Some teeth experience wearing due to grinding. Crowns applied to the worn down teeth can restore these teeth to full function, repair bite irregularities, and improve the overall look of a smile.
Teeth with large fillings may not be well supported in the gums. A crown can cover the remaining tooth and filling if there is no damage or infection in the nerve.
Some patients have discolored or irregularly shaped teeth. Crowns can correct these problems without further costly and ongoing treatments.
When your dentist recommends a crown, there will likely be two visits involved. At the first visit, the dentist will take x-rays to ensure the health of the tooth and the bone surrounding the tooth. The dentist will then provide some anesthesia to the area around the tooth and file down the chewing surface or reshape the tooth as necessary. An impression of the tooth will then be made so that a specialized lab can create a crown specifically for your tooth. Your dentist will choose a porcelain color close to the surrounding teeth so that the results appear natural. While the crown is being created, a temporary crown is applied. This is generally an acrylic, plain shaped crown applied with a temporary adhesive to protect the tooth until the permanent crown arrives from the lab.
At the second visit, the temporary crown will be removed. The color and fit of the new, permanent crown will be checked before it is placed. If all is well, anesthetic will be used for comfort as the new crown is permanently cemented into place.
A dental bridge is an appliance containing false teeth to fill a gap due to missing teeth. The teeth on either side of the bridge are generally crowned to provide anchors for the bridge so that it is stable in the mouth.
Bridges are used to restore healthy-looking smiles, improve eating and speech, or improve bite. They also prevent the teeth on either side of the gap from moving and affecting esthetics or function.
This is another procedure that requires multiple visits. The first visit is similar to the first crown visit, preparing the teeth on each side of the gap to receive crowns. A temporary bridge is applied while the crowns and permanent bridge are being created in the lab.
The second visit includes removal of the temporary bridge and fitting of the crowns and permanent bridge. Because this involves more than one tooth, several visits may be needed to ensure that the bridge fits correctly before permanently affixing it in the mouth.
There are times when teeth simply cannot be saved. They may have sustained extensive damage, decay, periodontal disease, or breakage. While permanent appliances are available, they may not be the best option chosen by the patient or dentist. In this case, a removable restorative device is the alternative. This could include full or partial dentures.