We get a lot of questions about crowns and bridges… which is ok, because we love to talk about both. Since it’s a big decision and an important investment into your wellbeing, we thought that you might appreciate learning from some of the most common questions we get.
THE ROLE THEY PLAY
Before we get started, let’s explain the role that crowns and bridges play in our mouth. Our adult teeth are the last set of teeth we get. Which means if there’s a sporting accident or a long period without enough brushing, you may lose a permanent tooth. Crowns and bridges are two of the most popular choices for filling the gap.
HOW DO CROWNS WORK?
Also known as “caps”, crowns are a prosthetic. They’re customized for your mouth, to cover the remains of a damaged tooth. While the tooth may be broken or significantly chipped, it’s still fixed in its position. That’s why a “cap” might be an ideal solution. It’s designed to fit perfectly between your other teeth and is coloured to match the shade of your teeth as well. It’s comforting to know that no one will be able to tell it’s a crown. Once in place, the crown strengthens the tooth and you’ll regain normal function of your mouth.
WHAT IF THERE IS NO REMAINING OR USABLE TOOTH?
If the tooth has received too much damage or decay, then a crown can be placed over a dental implant; a metal fixture that has been surgically fastened to your jawbone. The bone fuses to the metal during a process called osseointegration.
WHAT IS A CROWN MADE FROM?
There are a few choices available for your crown. Porcelain, acrylic or ceramic are ideal for looking as natural as possible in your mouth. Gold or metal options are available as well. They work and feel natural but aren’t as popular because of their appearance. They are, however, cost-effective.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE A CROWN?
Usually, two visits are required with your dentist. The first visit (hopefully immediately after you damage the tooth) is when you’ll review the options available. Your dentist will make a recommendation based on your bite, gum tissue, and your finances.
If you decide to move forward with the crown, the remaining tooth will be trimmed down ensuring a strong fit. An impression is then taken, which means you’ll bite into a thick, gummy substance for about one minute, which is removed and sent to the lab. You’ll also receive a temporary crown to help until the new one arrives.
During the second visit, the temporary crown is removed and the permanent crown is fitted. It’s important you take your time here and are honest with your dentist. Once it’s fitted, the crown is cemented into place.
HOW DO BRIDGES WORK?
A bridge is similar to a crown, but is meant to replace one or more missing teeth. If parts of the teeth remain, they will be filed down. Your dentist may also use implants at the outer edges of the gap.
Making a bridge is like making a crown. The dentist starts with an impression to build a mold for the bridge. You’ll receive a temporary bridge to cover the area while you’re waiting for your permanent solution.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CROWNS AND BRIDGES?
A crown is placed on top of a damaged or decaying tooth. It’s just one tooth that needs replacing. A bridge is usually used to replace multiple missing teeth. In some cases, the two may be used together. Crowns can be placed at each end of the bridge for extra support, the bridge will then cover the gap, protecting the gum tissue below.
ARE THESE FIXTURES STILL TEETH?
Sort of, they’ll look and feel just like teeth, but they’re technically called “pontics”.
HOW CAN I MAKE MY CROWN OR BRIDGE LAST?
Fortunately, the materials used for your crown or bridge do not decay like natural teeth. Plaque and tartar can still build up though, causing gum disease or decay on other natural teeth. Because of this, daily brushing and flossing are necessary. You also want to make sure you attend all your routine dental exams so the fixtures can be properly cleaned and examined. Both crowns and bridges have the potential to last the rest of your life, as long as you care for them properly.