Dental Crowns and Bridges:
So you went to the dentist and were told you needed a crown or dental bridge. Not quite sure what that means or why you need it?”
We at Smile Design Dentistry want to ensure you are a partner in your dental care, and fully understand what treatment was proposed. This will allow you to make a fully informed decision on your treatment needs and ask questions that allow you to feel comfortable with your dental health.
What Is A Dental Crown?
Simply put, a crown is a cap that goes over the top of your tooth. To achieve this, we need to prepare the tooth in such a way that allows for the crown material to sit on your tooth with enough thickness so it doesn’t break. That means we will cut down your tooth, remove any filling material and any cavity remaining to make that space. Sometimes after all of this is removed, we need to actually put material back in order to make a good foundation for the crown. We call this a core build up, and it serves the purpose of protection of the nerve of the tooth and providing enough structure to attach your crown.
What Is A Bridge?
A bridge is the fusing of multiple crowns. Typically the minimum number is three crowns, but in some situations, it can be as few as two crowns fused together. Bridges are used as a treatment option in a situation where a tooth is missing. In a three crown bridge the crowns on either end are attached to natural teeth (called the abutments) and the tooth in the middle replaces a missing tooth (called the pontic) and hangs above the gum tissue.
Why Do I Need A Crown?
There are a number of reasons why a crown may be recommended to you:
• Large existing filling that is failing or has a cavity around it: The removal of the filling or cavity will result in a high fracture risk for the tooth. A crown is placed on a tooth in this situation to protect the tooth, so a fracture doesn’t happen that could result in loss of the tooth.
• Fractured teeth: Teeth that have substantial cracks or have a piece missing may require a crown to prevent further propagation of the crack or further breaking of the tooth. Again this is done to protect the tooth and prevent possible loss or pain.
• Root Canaled Teeth: Teeth in the back of your mouth, the ones that you primarily use for chewing, become very brittle after a root canal is completed. These teeth require a crown to protect both the tooth and the underlying root canal. There is a significant relationship between the success of a root canal and a shorter duration of time before having the tooth crowned. The longer the tooth is unprotected, the more likely the tooth will need more treatment or have to be removed
• Esthetics: It could be that you have an old crown that no longer matches your tooth color or the gums have gotten lower making the look of the crown unappealing. If this is of concern to you, the only option available for existing crowns is to replace them to improve color or eliminate “seams” that are showing. You may also request a different shape or color to your existing natural teeth, depending on your particular needs one of the doctors at Smile Design Dentistry may recommend a crown to achieve this.
What Are Crowns And Bridges Made Of?
Crowns and bridges are made of many different materials. They can be made of metal, layered ceramic, solid ceramic or a mix of different materials. Depending on what we are trying to have the material do, will dictate the material of choice. Some materials have better esthetics and some show higher fracture resistance. Be sure to ask your dentist at Smile Design Dentistry what material is being chosen and why.
How Long Does a Crown Last?
The average lifespan of a crown or bridge is 10 years. There are a number of factors though that can increase and decrease the lifespan of your crown. Crowns need to be replaced for a number of reasons. A cavity around the seam of the crown, fracture of the ceramic material the crown is made of, or elective replacement due to color issues or bite issues. With proper care and hygiene, a crown can also last well beyond 10 years. As with any dentistry, at home care is paramount to predictable care.
What Is Involved In Getting A Crown?
Both crowns and bridges usually involve two dental visits. The first visit is to prepare the tooth by removing old filling and cavities and creating enough space to place your new crown. We are committed to advancements in technology at Smile Design Dentistry and once we have finished preparing your tooth we will take a digital impression of your tooth using the Itero digital impression system.
No more goopy impression material in most cases! You will leave the office with a plastic temporary crown in place for about 2 weeks. For your second visit, you will come to the office, have the temporary crown removed and the final crown fit and glued into place. Once this second short visit is completed, you will have your new dental crown in place and ready for chewing!
I hope this brief overview of crowns and bridges has answered some of the questions you may have had about the work proposed by your dentist at Smile Design Dentistry. As always, we welcome your calls and questions if there is anything left unanswered or new questions have come up since we last spoke.