Crowns & Bridgework
Dentistry is not just a science, it’s also an art and that is certainly the case with crowns and bridgework. A crown or bridgework can transform the look of your smile.
A dental crown, sometimes called a “cap,” is a carefully designed covering that fits over a damaged tooth, such as a tooth with chips or decay. We also can use crowns to cover a discolored or unattractive tooth. With bridgework, we are literally covering the gap created by a missing tooth.
In some cases, a dental veneer can be used to improve the look of a tooth; however, a veneer covers only the front of the tooth surface and there still needs to be a good amount of tooth structure in place to support the veneer. When there is not enough tooth structure in place, a crown is the best restoration option. Crowns not only look and feel like natural teeth, they strengthen the damaged tooth.
Bridgework is an excellent option if you are missing a tooth or teeth and have enough bone support in other teeth to support the bridgework.
The Crowning Process
In general, you can expect the process of obtaining a crown to include two or three office visits. During the first visit, the dentist will shape the tooth and prepare it to receive the crown. Before the process begins, the doctor will numb the tooth and the gum tissue near the tooth. The tooth will then be filed down and shaped to fit the crown. If you do not have adequate tooth structure to support the crown, the dentist will add filling material for extra support.
After your tooth has been filed and shaped, digital impressions of your tooth will be taken or perhaps putty-like impression materials will be used. These impressions will be sent to a dental laboratory where specialists will design your new crown.
The dentist will also cover the filed down tooth with a temporary crown to protect the area until your permanent crown is finished. During your next visit, the permanent crown will be affixed to the tooth using either permanent cement or a special type of resin.
In many ways, the process of creating bridgework is similar to crowning. A bridge will span the space left by a missing tooth. For a single missing tooth, the bridge will consist of three crowns, two which will fit over the healthy teeth on each side of the missing tooth and a crown to cover the blank space.
The teeth on either side of this blank space are known as abutment teeth and they are prepared in the same way as you would with a crown with numbing, filing and shaping. The end result will look completely natural and blend in with your other teeth. Bridgework can be used to cover larger gaps than just a single tooth, but with a larger gap, you need more abutment teeth for support. For instance, if you have a gap with three missing teeth, you will need four abutment teeth, two on either side of the gap.
Proper Care Preserves Crowns & Bridgework
Your crowns and bridgework should be cared for just as you would care for regular teeth. Daily flossing and twice-daily brushing is essential for optimum dental health and this also prolongs the life of your bridges or crowns. In addition, make sure you schedule regular visits to the dentist for exams and cleaning. Also, never use your crowns, bridgework or teeth as a tool, such as opening a package, as this can cause damage. For those who grind their teeth, a nightguard can be helpful and protect your crowns, bridgework and the rest of your teeth.