Crowns and most bridges are fixed. They are prosthetic devices that are a permanent fixture in your mouth. They are not like removable devices like dentures which are taken out daily to be cleaned. Crowns and bridges are in fact cemented onto your existing teeth, or implants if you have them. They can only be removed by a professional dentist.
Crowns – How Do They Work?
A crown sits on top of a tooth, completely covering it. It is also known as a cap. It is mostly used on damaged teeth, to make its appearance, or the shape or alignment. If the tooth has been replaced by an implant, a crown can be placed on it to make a more tooth-like shape. This will not only look better but will actually function better as a tooth.
Crowns can be coloured to match your natural teeth, although some people prefer to have gold and metal alloys. They can also be acrylic and ceramic. Alloys are usually strong, much stronger than porcelain, and this can be a better product for back teeth. Some people like porcelain attached to a metal base to give a strong but attractive tooth.
Reasons your dentist may suggest a crown for you:
- Cover over a tooth that has been damaged by root canal treatment
- Cover discoloured/badly stained or badly shaped teeth
- Cover dental fillings
- Rebuild a fractured tooth
- Protect a weak tooth, for instance, from fracturing
- To replace a particularly large filling, for instance when there isn’t enough tooth remaining
Bridges – How Do They Work?
If you have one or more teeth missing, then your dentist may recommend a bridge. Moving teeth and shifting teeth are often because of gaps, as the remaining teeth sometimes rotate or shift into the empty spaces. Then a person will have a bad bite. There are more serious conditions that are caused by the resulting imbalance such as gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
Bridges are usually used to fill small gaps of one or two missing teeth. They will fit in the space where the tooth used to be. Bridges are cemented to the natural teeth, or possibly implants, that surround the space. The teeth are known as abutments, and they hold the bridge in place. A replacement tooth is attached to the crowns which fit over the abutments.
Bridges come in a choice of materials. Your dentist will give you the best possible advice but they could recommend porcelain or ceramic bridges. These can be coloured to match your own natural teeth. Your dentist will advise you on the best product for your mouth, where the teeth are and of course the cost of the material used.
What is the Construction of Crowns and Bridges?
When a crown or bridge is fitted, the teeth need to be reduced or made smaller so that the crown or bridge will fit over the teeth. After reducing the size of these teeth your dentist will take an impression of your teeth. This mold will give them the exact dimensions of your teeth to help them make the crown or bridge. If porcelain is going to be used for your dental work then it can be matched to the colour of your natural teeth.
The dental lab will take this impression and use it to make the perfect crown or bridge for you. It will be made in the material your dentist specifies. There will be a temporary crown or bridge, this will help your mouth get used to it before the permanent crown or bridge is made. Then, when the permanent crown or bridge is ready, the temporary crown is taken off, and the permanent crown put on. It is then cemented onto the teeth that have been prepared for this.
Crowns and Bridges – How long do they Last?
While some crowns and bridges last as long as a person does, sometimes they do come loose or fall out. The best way to prevent the bridge coming loose and falling out is to very careful to practice good oral hygiene. If the teeth underneath get damaged by gum disease they cause the bridge or crown to lose its support.
You will need to brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day, and floss every day too. You need to see your dentist every six months, they will recommend a hygienist if necessary. Getting a professional clean now and again is great for your dental hygiene.