Crowns & Bridges
A crown is an artificial restoration that fits over the remaining part of a prepared tooth, making it strong and giving it the shape of a natural tooth. A crown is sometimes known as a 'cap'.
Crowns are an ideal restoration for teeth that have been broken, or have been weakened by decay or a very large filling. A crown could be used for a number of other reasons, for instance:
- you may have discoloured fillings and would like to improve the appearance of the tooth
- you may have had a root filling which will need a crown to protect what is left of the tooth.
- it may help hold a bridge or denture firmly in place.
Crowns can be made of a variety of different materials and new materials are continually being introduced. Some of the most popular options are listed below:
Porcelain Bonded to Precious Metal
This is what most crowns are made from. A precious metal base is made and then porcelain is applied in layers over it.
This modern technique offers a metal-free alternative, which can give the strength of a bonded crown and the appearance of a porcelain crown. Therefore it is suitable for use in all areas of the mouth.
Gold Alloy Crowns
Gold is one of the oldest filling materials. Today it is used with other metal alloys to increase its strength, which makes it a very hardwearing restoration. These crowns are silver or gold in colour.
MUDr. Suchter will prepare the tooth to the ideal shape for the crown. This will involve removing most of the outer surface, and leaving a strong inner core. The amount of the tooth removed will be the same as the thickness of the crown.
Once the tooth is shaped, the dentist will take an impression (mould) of the prepared tooth, one of the opposite jaw and possibly another to mark the way you bite together.
The impressions will then be given to the dental technician, along with an appropriate shade and other information needed for the crown to be made.
When crown is manufactured and you and your dentist is happy with the fit and appearance, it will be fixed in place with special dental cement or adhesive. The cement forms a seal to hold the crown in place.
How long your crown lasts depends on how well you look after it. The crown itself cannot decay, but decay can start where the edge of the crown joins the tooth. Therefore, to prevent decay affecting the crown, it is important to keep this area just as clean as you would your natural teeth. Brush for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and clean in between your teeth with interdental brushes or floss.
Properly cared for crowns should last for many years.
A bridge is a dental device that fills a space that a tooth previously occupied. A bridge may be necessary to prevent shifting of the teeth that can lead to bite problems (occlusion) and/or jaw problems and resultant periodontal disease.
Bridges safeguard the integrity of existing teeth and help maintain a healthy, vibrant smile.
There are three main types of bridges, namely:
- Fixed bridge - this is the most popular and consists of a pontic(missing tooth) tooth that is attached to two crowns, which fit over the existing teeth and hold the bridge in place.
- The “Maryland” bridge is commonly used to replace missing front teeth and consists of a pontic(missing tooth) that is attached to metal wings that are bonded to the abutment teeth.
- The Cantilever bridge is often used when there are teeth on only one side of the span. A typical three-unit cantilever bridge consists of two crowned teeth positioned next to each other on the same side of the missing tooth space. The pontic(missing tooth) is then connected to the two crowned teeth, which extend into the missing tooth space or end.
Teeth on which the bridge is fixed are called ‘abutments’. These teeth will need to be shaped to fit the bridge. In those cases where these neighbouring teeth already have large fillings a bridge is a good option as it can be used to strengthen these teeth and replace the missing tooth. If this is not the case then we may prefer to look at other options, such as dental implants. Once the teeth have been shaped a mould will be taken (copy of your teeth) so that the dental lab can manufacture the bridge.
While we are waiting for this, a temporary bridge will be placed for a few days. There are again different types of bridges all of which will match the neighbouring teeth in colour. Although dental implants have become a more favorable method for replacing missing teeth, bridges are more affordable and in some cases may be the only option. On your return appointment the bridge will be fitted with permanent cement.
Bridges are usually made as porcelain bonded to metal or full metal, but with new materials-small bridges (3-unit) can be made as full ceramic as well.