A dental crown is an imitation tooth that is placed on the top of a natural tooth to protect and strengthen your teeth. Often, these crowns are placed before any damage has occurred, which will protect the tooth from future damage and oral complications like cavities. Crowns look and feel like natural teeth, and can be used to fill empty spaces between teeth, prevent oral disease, and lessen the appearance of plaque.
Benefits of Dental Crowns
- Protects weak teeth from cracking or holds together a broken tooth.
- Restores a cracked tooth.
- Holds a dental bridge or a dental implant in place.
- Covers discolored or damaged-looking teeth.
- May protect the teeth of children who are at risk for tooth decay or have trouble maintaining proper oral hygiene.
Risk Factors of Dental Crowns
Proper care of temporary crowns (a removable cap placed over the tooth until a permanent crown is made) is necessary to keep the tooth covered and safe. Avoid eating sticky, chewy, or hard foods, which can dislodge or break your temporary crown. Use mouthwash and brush and floss daily to avoid bacterial buildup around your temporary crown.
Complications may occur even after your dentist installs a permanent crown. Such problems include:
- Loose, chipped, or removed crown. This is especially common if the crown is improperly fit, or not fully sealed to the top of the tooth. Normally, your dentist will either reaffix the crown using dental cement, or make a new crown.
- Sensitivity or pain, which is common immediately after the crown is placed. Your dentist may recommend a fluoride toothpaste, which can help lessen sensitivity.
- Allergic reaction. While uncommon, some people may be allergic to the metals used to make the crown.
A dental bridge covers missing teeth and “bridges” the gap between two or more crowns, providing natural-looking false teeth in between the anchoring teeth on either side of the bridge. Dental bridges are ideal for patients who are missing multiple teeth and wish to restore their natural appearance and structure.
Types of Dental Bridges
- Traditional Bridges: the most common type of dental bridge. The traditional bridge is often made of porcelain and is fused to a tooth or dental implant on either side of the missing tooth or teeth.
- Cantilever Bridges: fused to only one tooth or implant instead of two on either side.
- Maryland Bonded/Resin Bridges: porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, or plastic with a porcelain framework. These bridges, like cantilever bridges, are often fused with natural teeth on one side of the gap.
As with dental crowns, your dentist may place a temporary bridge in your mouth while constructing a permanent dental bridge. Because the bridge fuses with natural teeth or existing implants, the dentist will first prepare the teeth on either side of the gap and take an impression for more natural feel and function. Once the permanent bridge is placed, your dentist may recommend several follow-up visits to ensure the proper fit and comfort. Once the bridge has settled and feels comfortable, it is cemented in place.
Benefits of Dental Bridges
Because normal functions are made difficult by missing teeth, dental bridges can significantly improve your life in the following ways:
- Improved speaking, biting, and chewing.
- Longevity: most dental bridges last 10 years or longer.
- Improved appearance and self-esteem.
- Reduced jaw pain from uneven bite distribution.
- Increased stability of remaining teeth.
Risk Factors for Dental Bridges
While dental bridges are extremely safe and rarely cause any long-term health problems, it is important to care for the bridge and other teeth to avoid complications. Potential risk factors include:
- Bacterial buildup, usually caused because most bridges are not removable and can be difficult to clean.
- Tooth collapse, which can occur if the teeth surrounding the bridge aren’t strong.
- Increased risk in tooth decay for the teeth surrounding the bridge.
- Damage to the nerves in the surrounding teeth.
- Increased tooth sensitivity.
- Gum irritation or sensitivity.
Additionally, speaking and chewing may be more challenging immediately after a dental bridge is placed, but once a bridge becomes settled, most patients experienced increased ease of speech and biting.
Contact our office if you have damage to one or more teeth and believe a dental crown or bridge may be right for you!