A “Crowning” Achievement: Dental crowns and bridges

Dr. Sharon Robinson, DDS

Though dental crowns and bridges make be an essential tool in modern dentistry, time can’t take away the significance of this extraordinary technology. When tooth structure falters due to decay or fractures, crown and bridges can restore both normal function and cosmetic appearance. And unlike removable devices such as dentures, crowns and bridges are cemented onto existing teeth or implants.

Crowns: Why they work

Placed over the degraded tooth, crowns are used to replace fillings, protect weak teeth, or restore fractures. And whether made from ceramic or porcelain fused to metal, the crown can be sculpted to look as natural as possible when located near the front of one’s smile. How we perceive our smile and appearance can affect our self-esteem and how we function in social and business relationships.  So, when this situation occurs, there is a sense of urgency.

Bridges: Why they work

A bridge, designed to fit over gaps, may be recommended if you’re missing one or more teeth. Gaps can eventually cause the remaining teeth to rotate or shift into the empty spaces, creating a bad bite. This imbalance can also lead to gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. To prevent this, bridges are cemented to the natural teeth surrounding the empty space. And like crowns, you have a choice of materials. Your dentist can help you decide which to use, based on location, function, aesthetic appeal and cost.

How are they made?

The tooth is prepared to allow enough room for the crown or bridge to fit over the tooth or teeth without extending too far and interfering with the person’s bite.  This procedure usually takes two visits, depending on the situation. Between appointments, a temporary acrylic crown or bridge is cemented over the teeth.  In the second visit, the crown is “tried in” to check both fit and color. If both the patient and dentist are satisfied, the crown is permanently bonded to the tooth.

How long do they last?

While crowns and bridges can last a lifetime, they do sometimes break or fall out. The most important step toward ensuring longevity is to practice good oral hygiene. A bridge can lose its support if the teeth holding it in place are damaged by disease. Keep your gums and teeth healthy by brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing twice daily. Be sure to see your dentist and hygienist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings. Avoid chewing hard foods (including bones), ice or other hard objects.

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