Crowns And Bridges

When a tooth is cracked, decayed, or damaged, a dental crown may need to be fitted onto the tooth. A dental crown is a permanent covering that fits over the original tooth. Dental crowns can be made of porcelain, gold and other metals, acrylic resin, or an amalgam (a mix) of these materials. Porcelain crowns typically have the most realistic appearance, although they tend to be less durable than other materials. Dental crowns can whiten, reshape, and realign existing teeth, adding to a bright, healthy smile.

During your first visit, the dentist will numb the tooth to be crowned and remove the decay in or around it. The tooth is then resculpted to provide an easy fit for the dental crown. This is a painless procedure that is performed in the dentist’s chair.

On your next visit, the dentist removes the temporary dental crown and fits the permanent dental crown onto the tooth. He or she makes sure the dental crown has the proper look and fit and then cements the crown into place.

The proper dental hygiene for normal teeth should be applied to any new dental crown. Daily brushing and flossing will help to keep the teeth, gums, and crown free from the bacteria that can cause gum disease. Chewing on hard foods such as ice or pistachios should be avoided because over time, they can cause dental crowns to crack or break. Given proper care, crowns can last several decades and may last a lifetime.

An impression of your teeth is then taken and sent to the dental lab where permanent, custom-made dental crowns are created (this usually takes one to two weeks). During this interim period, temporary dental crowns made of an acrylic resin are fitted onto the teeth.

A dental bridge is a device used to fill the space where a tooth has fallen out or been removed. A typical dental bridge consists of a pontic (a filler tooth) that is attached to two surrounding abutments (dental crowns). Once complete, this dental bridge structure is bonded into the mouth. Without the use of a dental bridge, spaces in the mouth from missing teeth can cause multiple teeth to shift, lead to occlusion (biting) and/or jaw problems and spur periodontal disease. Dental bridges safeguard the integrity of existing teeth and help maintain a healthy, vibrant smile.

Dental bridges usually require two trips to the dentist’s office. During the initial visit, the surrounding teeth are numbed with a local anesthetic. The dentist prepares the surrounding teeth by cleaning any plaque or decay that remains and reducing them so that the dental crowns can be fitted. The dentist makes a mold of the teeth and sends it off to a dental lab, where the customized impression is prepared. The customized mold takes one to two weeks to return to the office. In the interim, patients are fitted with a temporary dental bridge constructed of acrylic resin. When the patient returns to the dental office, the dentist removes the temporary dental bridge and replaces it with the permanent one. The dentist then adjusts the dental bridge for the proper bite and fit, and the dental bridge is permanently bonded into the mouth.

If the missing tooth space has no surrounding teeth, the dentist may decide a dental implant is the most appropriate choice. When a series of teeth are missing, the dentist may suggest a partial denture as the most effective way to maintain the structure of the jawbone.