CROWNS AND BRIDGES
What is a crown?
A crown is a “cap” that covers most or all of the visible portion of a tooth. It is cemented in place and cannot be removed for daily cleaning. Crowns may be made of metal or tooth coloured ceramic or a combination of both materials.
Crowns may be recommended to:
- Protect and strengthen a tooth which has been heavily restored
- Protect and restore a broken or cracked tooth
- Protect a tooth that has had root canal treatment
- Improve the appearance of a deformed or discoloured tooth
What is a bridge?
A bridge may be used to replace one or more teeth. Unlike a removable denture, this is cemented in place and can only be removed by a dentist. Bridges are reliant on the remaining natural teeth (abutments) to which they are cemented. The abutments serve as anchors for the bridge and may require a full coverage crown (conventional bridge) or a thin plate cemented to the back of the natural tooth (acid-etched bridge). Like crowns, a bridge may be made of metal or tooth coloured ceramic.
What does the procedure involve?
The usual process for a crown or bridge will involve two visits. The dentist may require an x-ray before starting to make sure the remaining tooth structure is strong enough to support the crown. In some cases where the amount of tooth structure remaining is insufficient, a post may be required to increase support.
On the first visit, the dentist will reduce the size of the tooth to provide enough space for the crown material. If a post is required, this will also be prepared and cemented. An impression or mould of the tooth is then taken and if the ceramic is being used, a colour match recorded so that the crown will blend in with your natural teeth. In most cases, a temporary crown will be made and cemented to prevent damage to the tooth in between visits.
On the second visit one to two weeks later, the crown or bridge will be tried in by the dentist. Some adjustments may be required and then when the dentist is satisfied with how it sits, it will be cemented in permanently
How long does a crown and/or bridge last?
While most crowns and bridges can last for more than 20 years, it is still important to maintain good oral hygiene. Given that the crown itself is supported by a natural tooth, it is still susceptible to decay and gum disease which may lead to failure of the restoration. It is also important to avoid hard foods like bones and ice which may damage the crown itself. Patients who grind their teeth may require a night splint to prevent the ceramic from chipping.
Crowns and bridges may not be suitable for all patients and situations so it is best to contact your dentist to see which options suit you best.