Dental Crowns & Bridges

Dentistry is an art as well as a science; dental crowns offer a perfect example of this.  A dental crown or “cap” is a covering that fits over a damaged, decayed or unattractive tooth. It can even replace a tooth entirely as part of dental bridgework.

Crowns strengthen damaged teeth, allowing them to function normally again.  When crafted from today’s high-tech materials, crowns are virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth.  There are a variety of materials that can be used to make crowns; these include porcelain, gold, porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM), and zirconia.  We would be happy to discuss the various options with you.

Crowning a Tooth

Crowning or capping a tooth will take two visits to our office.

At the first visit, your tooth is prepared to receive its new crown.  This will involve some drilling to give the tooth a uniform shape.  The tooth and the surrounding area will be numbed beforehand, ensuring that you do not feel any pain.  If there is very little tooth structure to begin with, the tooth may have to be built up with filling material and then shaped to support the crown.  After the tooth is prepared, impressions are taken with a digital scanner and sent to the dental laboratory.  There, a custom crown will be designed to enhance your smile and function well within your bite. Before you leave our office, a temporary crown will be attached to your tooth to protect it until the permanent crown is ready.

At the second visit, your temporary crown will be removed and the permanent crown will be attached to your tooth with either a resin that hardens when exposed to a special light source, or a type of permanent cement.

Creating a Bridge

Crowns can also be used to create a lifelike replacement for a missing tooth. This is done with bridgework, which spans the space of the missing tooth and requires at least three crowns.  Typically, two of those crowns will be placed over healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth; these healthy teeth are referred to as abutment teeth. The two crowned abutment teeth become supports for a third crown placed in between them; that third crown is referred to as a pontic.  If more than one tooth is missing, more crowns will be needed to bridge the gap in between the abutment teeth. The number of abutment teeth necessary to replace missing teeth is influenced by the number of missing teeth, the size and length of the abutment tooth roots, the amount of bone support each abutment tooth has, as well as where in the mouth the missing tooth is located.

Caring for Your Crowns & Bridgework

Crowns and bridgework require the same conscientious care as your natural teeth. Be sure to brush and floss between all of your teeth, restored and natural, every day to reduce the buildup of dental plaque. A water pick is a good tool to use to clean around bridgework.  When you have crowns, it is even more important to maintain your regular schedule of cleanings at the dental office. Avoid using your teeth as tools (to open packages, for example). If you have a grinding habit, wearing a night guard would be a good idea to protect your teeth and your investment.