What is a dental crown?
Whether they are called dental crowns, dental caps or tooth caps, damaged, broken or worn down teeth are covered by a crown, as a way to strengthen the teeth and improve the cosmetic appearance. Your dentist will make moulds of your which are then sent to a dental laboratory where the crown/s are made.
Dental crowns are made from a wide range of materials, including ceramics, porcelain, gold or a combination of metals which have been fused to a porcelain shell.
The all-ceramic or all-porcelain crowns have a natural look and are indistinguishable from natural teeth.
Some of the reasons you may require a crown are:
- Teeth grinding: if you grind your teeth, and your diet is poor as well, your teeth will erode to the point at which a crown may be the only treatment option.
- Accident or injury: an accident may have resulted in a broken or badly chipped tooth which can be repaired with a crown.
- Aesthetic: some patients choose to have a crown for cosmetic reasons.
- Root canal surgery: if you have had this treatment a crown may be necessary to strengthen the tooth.
- Significant fracture: a seriously fractured tooth that cannot be repaired by composite bonding probably requires a crown.
- Large filling: a crown is a way to offer extra protection after a large filling.
- Severe decay: a crown may be the only answer to this type of decay because the strength of the tooth may be seriously compromised.
Why are crowns more expensive than fillings?
A crown is more complicated than a filling. The materials used in creating a crown and the associated laboratory fees make them more expensive.
Your dentist will require two or three visits to reduce the size of the existing tooth and make a mould. Your dentist will fit a temporary crown and finally, the permanent crown will be secured in place.
What is a bridge?
A dental bridge is a replacement for missing teeth. If you have lost any teeth, you may have been left with a series of unsightly gaps. If the gaps are not filled with replacement teeth then there is a risk of bone loss ( ‘bone resorption’), which can impact your facial appearance.
A bridge acts as an anchor for two crowns and consists of a false tooth called a ‘pontic’ which sits between the two crowns. The ‘pontic’ is inserted into the gap made by the missing tooth, and is flanked on either side by the two crowns. The crowns fit over your natural teeth on either side of the gap. The two anchoring teeth are called ‘abutment teeth’.
The ‘pontic’ can be made from porcelain, gold, alloy or any combination of these materials.
A bridge can prevent bone loss, gum disease or decay caused by the presence of food debris in the gap created by the missing tooth, and it will relieve pressure on the teeth either side of the gap.
An enamel-bonded bridge uses a metal or porcelain framework to attach the artificial teeth which is then resin bonded to the supporting teeth.
If you stick to a healthy oral regime, such as brushing twice a day, flossing and regular check ups, your bridge can last for up to 15 years.
A dental bridge can give you a natural looking appearance as well as resolving any ‘bite’ problems that you may have. But be aware, it can cause your teeth to feel a bit sensitive for the first few weeks after it has been fitted.
Your dentist will discuss this form of treatment with you as well as assessing your suitability for crowns or bridgework.