What are Dental Crowns and Tooth Bridges?
Both crowns and most bridges are fixed prosthetic devices. Unlike removable devices such as dentures, which you can take out and clean daily, crowns and bridges are cemented onto existing teeth or implants, and can only be removed by a dentist.
How do Crowns Work?
A crown is used to entirely cover or “cap” a damaged tooth. Besides strengthening a damaged tooth, a crown can be used to improve its appearance, shape or alignment. A crown can also be placed on top of an implant to provide a tooth-like shape and structure for function. Porcelain or ceramic crowns can be matched to the color of your natural teeth. Other materials include gold and metal alloys, acrylic and ceramic. These alloys are generally stronger than porcelain and may be recommended for back teeth. Porcelain bonded to a metal shell is often used because it is both strong and attractive.
Your dentist may recommend a crown to:
- Replace a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth remaining
- Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
- Restore a fractured tooth
- Attach a bridge
- Cover a dental implant
- Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth
- Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment
Crowns can be made of all metal, all porcelain, or a combination of both. Because all crowns are custom made for each patient, it may take more than one appointment to complete. At your first visit, the area is numbed to make you comfortable. Your dentist will use a dental hand piece to shape and prepare the tooth so that the crown can properly fit over it. Next, impressions are taken of the prepared tooth. Often times, a temporary crown is placed to protect the tooth while the final crown is being made. The impressions are used to fabricate a model of your mouth on which the final crown is made. When your final crown is ready, dental cement is placed into the crown and it is cemented to the prepared tooth. You tooth is now restored to a healthy and functioning state!