Crowns & Bridgework
Dental Crowns and Bridges
Dental crowns and bridges are two different prostheses we use at Fleur de Lis Dental Care to remedy various dental problems, from a cracked tooth to replacing a missing tooth. The two prostheses are different, although crowns are an integral part of any bridge.
What is a dental crown?
If you think of a tooth, you can divide it into two parts — the root and the crown. The root is anchored into the jawbone and is covered by the gums. The visible part of the upper tooth is the natural crown. When a damaged tooth is covered by an artificial restoration that partially or completely covers the natural crown, this is called a dental crown.
Dental crowns used to be referred to as “caps,” and that is a good description as the crown is a cap of sorts, fitting over the entire area of the tooth above the gum line, restoring the original size and shape of the tooth. The real point, however, is to return strength to the damaged tooth.
What problems do crowns correct?
Dental crowns can restore the strength in a damaged tooth, can cover serious imperfections, or can act as anchors for a dental bridge.
Here’s a list of problems we use crowns to fix at Fleur de Lis:
- Teeth with overly large fillings
- Severely worn teeth
- Broken or fractured teeth
- Heavily decayed teeth
- Chipped teeth
- Misshapen teeth
- Teeth that have had a root canal
- Teeth on both sides of a bridge
- Severely discolored teeth
How are crowns made and applied?
At most practices, the preparation and placement of a crown requires two appointments. At Fleur de Lis, however, thanks to our in-house ceramic crown fabrication ability we can place a crown in just one visit.
First, we must prepare the tooth. Decayed or damaged areas of the tooth are removed and the tooth is thoroughly cleaned. Next, to make room for the crown, we shave off a portion of the tooth enamel. We then take digital measurements and photos and send them to our CEREC system, which uses CAD/CAM technology to design and then create your porcelain crown. This fabrication only takes around 30 minutes. When your crown is finished, we test it for fit and color match with your adjacent teeth. We make adjustments as necessary, and then we cement the crown onto your tooth permanently.
How long do crowns last?
Porcelain crowns can last for up to two decades, depending on the quality of your home care.
What is a dental bridge?
Whereas a crown is placed on a single tooth, a dental bridge is used to replace a missing tooth or teeth. A bridge literally “bridges” the gap created by a missing tooth or teeth, and is anchored by the healthy teeth on both sides of the gap. Crowns are placed on the healthy teeth. These are called the abutment teeth. Then a false tooth or teeth, known as pontics, replace the missing teeth. The bridge is usually a single piece and is permanently cemented into place.
Why should I replace a missing tooth?
Sometimes a person opts to not replace a missing tooth that either was lost due to trauma or was extracted. This is a bad idea. First, without the pressure from the missing tooth, the adjacent teeth tend to slide over into the gap. This affects your smile, your bite, and your self-confidence. Also, a missing tooth can make you avoid certain foods. It can create a whistling sound when talking. And it can lead to deterioration of the jawbone beneath the missing tooth or teeth.
How is a bridge placed?
Depending on the complexity of the bridge, placing it will likely involve two appointments. During your first appointment, we prepare the abutment teeth for their crowns. As mentioned above, we shave off a portion of the enamel to make room for the crowns to be placed over them. Then, if the bridge is too complex for fabrication by our CEREC system, we’ll take impressions and send them off to a dental lab to make your bridge. Otherwise, our CEREC system will make it in-office.
Either way, when your bridge is finished, we’ll first test the fit and the color match with your adjacent teeth. We’ll adjust it as necessary. Sometimes, we’ll place the bridge with temporary cement to allow you to test the fit during normal use before we permanently cement it into place.
Are there different types of bridges?
There are three main types of bridges:
- Traditional bridges are the type we’ve described above with crowns on two abutment teeth and a pontic between them. Traditional bridges are the most common. We prefer them to be made from porcelain for durability, but other materials such as ceramic can be used.
- Cantilever bridges are used when there are adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth. Unlike a true bridge, with anchors on both sides, a cantilever bridge is more like a balcony. We anchor these types of bridges with two crowns on the one side.
- Maryland bridges are also known as resin-bonded bridges. Typically used on the front teeth, a Maryland bridge doesn’t use crowns as anchors. Instead it attaches to bands that are bonded to the back surfaces of the supporting teeth.
How long do bridges last?
Dental bridges generally last from five to 15 years, but can last even longer. Their lifespan is often predicated on the health of the abutment teeth. If you take good care of them your bridge can last a long time.