Dental bridges and crowns are permanent prosthetic devices used by a dentist. These are attached to hold existing teeth together. Crowns are commonly to cover an implant or to wrap up or “cap” an injured tooth. Bridges, as the word explains, are used to bridge the gap when there is a space due to missing teeth. These are attached together to natural teeth or implants adjacent to the space where they once existed.
Benefits of bridges and crowns – Bridges and crowns are used so as to strengthen an injured or damaged tooth and improve its appearance, form, position and dental closure (bite). These also help in preventing shifting of teeth due to gaps left by missing teeth.
How are bridges and crowns made?
A tooth or teeth should first be reduced in size for the crown or bridge to fit properly. After this, your dentist will take impressions for your teeth to make an exact mould for the crown or bridge. If you want the crown or bridge to be of the exact shade and colour of your existing teeth, the dentist will use porcelain. Once your dentist specifies the material to be used, the dental lab will use the impression to make the crown or bridge. A temporary one will be placed in your mouth until the permanent one is made. Once the permanent crown or bridge is made, it will be cemented in its place with existing teeth.
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How do bridges work?
A bridge is used to cover up the gap of missing teeth. Because of missing teeth, remaining teeth eventually shift or rotate from their original positions, causing a bad bite. This disparity can also lead to gum diseases and Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders.
Bridges are cemented to the surrounding space of natural teeth. These teeth are known as abutments and provide support as anchors for the bridge. For crowns and bridges, you can choose the material through your dentist’s consultation. It depends upon the location of the missing teeth, their purpose, appearance and cost. Pontic, also known as a replacement tooth is fixed to the crown that covers the abutments. Materials like porcelain and ceramic match the color of your natural teeth.
How do crowns work?
A crown completely covers up or ‘caps’ an injured tooth. It also strengthens, improves appearance, form and position of teeth. When placed on top of an implant, it resembles the shape and function of a tooth. Apart from porcelain and ceramic that matches the colour of existing teeth; crowns come in acrylic and other metallic alloys. Since metallic alloys are stronger than porcelain, they are recommended for back teeth whereas porcelain appears to look attractive.
A crown is usually recommended when –
- There is a need to substitute a large filling due to very little tooth remaining.
- To guard a fragile tooth or restore it from fracturing.
- When there is a requirement to cement a bridge.
- To plaster a dental implant.
- To envelop a discolored or badly shaped tooth.
- To cover up a root canal.
Avoid chewing hard food like ice or food that sticks to your teeth like chewy sticky candies, to prevent damage to your new crown or bridge.
How long do Crowns and Bridges last?
Usually crowns and bridges last for lifetime, but there are exceptions when they fall out. One of the best ways to ensure the long life of your crown or bridge is to perform proper oral hygiene. Due to dental diseases, chances are that the bridge might lose support because of damage on the bone or teeth that hold the bridge in place.
For healthy oral hygiene, brush and floss daily with fluoride toothpaste, twice a day.