A dental crown is a fixed prosthetic device that is used to cover a damaged tooth. This “cap” strengthens a tooth damaged by trauma or extensive decay. It can also be used to improve the appearance or alignment of a tooth. In addition, crowns are cemented onto dental implants to restore the function and aesthetics of a missing tooth. Crowns are made from a wide range of materials such as stainless steel, gold, porcelain, and zirconia. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of strength, aesthetics and costs. Our patients are encouraged to discuss their priorities so they can be guided to choose crown materials most suited to their specific needs.
At your first appointment, your dentist will examine the tooth to make sure that it can support a crown. Your dentist will then begin filing it down to prepare for the crown or fill it in to make it large enough to properly receive it. After the tooth is filed or filled, the tooth will have a new temporary crown that protects it until the permanent crown is ready to be placed. On the second visit, the temporary crown is removed, after which the new crown will be positioned and cemented onto the tooth.
A dental bridge is commonly used to replace one or more missing teeth. The dental bridge typically consists of two crowns which support one or more replacement teeth known as the pontic(s). The crowns are cemented onto the natural teeth on each side of the empty space; these serve as anchors for the dental bridge. Just as for crowns, dental bridges come in a variety of materials.
A fixed bridge will require at least two dental visits to complete. On the first visit, the dentist prepares your neighboring teeth. He takes an impression of your teeth and creates a temporary bridge. The lab designs the permanent bridge which is cemented in two weeks later.
Digital scanners are now available which allow the dentists to scan your teeth and capture the data previously only achievable with a dental impression. This new technology offers a comfortable and efficient alternative to conventional methods of taking impressions.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Dental bridges look, feel, and function like natural teeth. Unlike dentures, they do not require removal for cleaning. However, they require extra effort to clean and once in place, can only be removed by a dentist. The biggest disadvantage of bridges is the need to sacrifice neighboring good teeth, paring them down so that they can be fitted with crowns in order to support the pontic.