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Crowns & Bridgework

Dentistry is a blend of art and science, and dental crowns exemplify this combination. A dental crown, also known as a "cap," is a protective covering that is placed over a damaged, decayed, or unattractive tooth. It can even serve as a replacement for a missing tooth as part of bridgework.

Unlike dental veneers, which only cover the front surface of a tooth and require natural tooth structure for support, a crown completely covers the tooth above the gum line. This makes it an ideal restoration when a tooth has lost a significant amount of structure above the gum line.

Crowns provide strength and functionality to damaged teeth, allowing them to function normally once again. With advancements in dental ceramics, today's crowns are remarkably natural-looking and can seamlessly blend with the surrounding teeth. In fact, they can even enhance the appearance of the original tooth.

While porcelain is a popular material for dental crowns due to its lifelike aesthetics, there are other options available depending on specific needs and priorities. For exceptional durability, cast gold crowns are unmatched. However, they may not be the most aesthetically pleasing choice, particularly for front teeth. Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns combine the strength of a metal interior with a porcelain exterior for a natural appearance. Another option is all-porcelain crowns with zirconia, which offers superior strength as a ceramic material. Our team can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each option with you, helping you make an informed decision.

Ultimately, dental crowns serve both functional and cosmetic purposes, restoring the health and appearance of damaged teeth.

Crowning or Capping a Tooth

The process of getting a dental crown typically involves two to three visits to the dentist. During the first visit, your tooth is prepared to receive the crown. This involves shaping the tooth to fit inside the new crown, which may require some drilling to achieve a uniform shape. Prior to the procedure, the tooth and surrounding area will be numbed to ensure your comfort. In cases where there is minimal tooth structure remaining, filling material may be used to build up the tooth to provide support for the crown.

Once the tooth is prepared, impressions of your teeth will be taken. This can be done digitally or with traditional putty-like impression materials. The impressions are then sent to a dental laboratory where skilled technicians will use them to create models of your teeth. These models serve as guides for the creation of your custom-designed crown, ensuring it enhances your smile and fits well within your bite.

Before you leave the dental office, a temporary crown will be placed on your tooth to protect it while your permanent crown is being made. During the second visit, the temporary crown is removed, and your permanent crown is attached to the tooth. This can be done using a resin material that hardens when exposed to a special light source or a type of permanent cement.

The goal of this process is to provide you with a durable and aesthetically pleasing crown that restores the function and appearance of your tooth. Your dentist will guide you through each step of the procedure and ensure that you are comfortable throughout the process.

Creating a Bridge

Crowns can also be used in conjunction with bridgework to create a natural-looking replacement for a missing tooth or multiple missing teeth. When using bridgework, at least three crowns are involved. Two of these crowns are placed over healthy teeth on either side of the gap created by the missing tooth/teeth. These healthy teeth are known as abutment teeth. The abutment teeth provide support for a third crown, which is placed in the space between them and is called a pontic.

The number of abutment teeth required depends on various factors such as the number of missing teeth, the size and length of the abutment tooth roots, the amount of bone support available, and the location of the missing tooth in the mouth. For example, if you have three missing teeth, four abutment teeth may be needed to support a seven-tooth bridge.

The engineering and design of the bridge takes into account the principles of tooth replacement, as well as the biology of the surrounding gum and bone tissue. It is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of these factors to ensure a successful and functional outcome. By carefully considering the individual circumstances, dentists can create a bridge that restores both the appearance and function of the missing teeth while maintaining the health of the surrounding tissues.

Caring for Your Crowns & Bridgework

Proper care and maintenance are essential for crowns and bridgework to ensure their longevity and optimal oral health. Here are some important care guidelines:

Brush and floss regularly: It is crucial to brush your teeth, including the crowned or bridged teeth, at least twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Additionally, floss between all of your teeth, including the ones with crowns or bridges, to remove plaque and food debris.

Attend regular dental cleanings: Maintaining regular dental checkups and cleanings is important for both your natural teeth and any dental restorations. Your dentist or dental hygienist will clean your teeth thoroughly, including the areas around the crowns and bridges, to prevent plaque buildup and detect any potential issues early.

Avoid using your teeth as tools: Refrain from using your teeth to open packages, bite on hard objects, or perform tasks they are not intended for. Using your teeth as tools can put excessive pressure on the crowns or bridges, leading to damage or dislodgement.

Wear a nightguard for grinding or clenching: If you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, known as bruxism, wearing a nightguard can help protect your teeth and restorations from excessive forces. Your dentist can provide you with a custom-fitted nightguard to wear while you sleep.

By following these care recommendations and maintaining good oral hygiene practices, you can help ensure the longevity and functionality of your crowns and bridgework, as well as promote overall oral health. If you have any concerns or questions about caring for your dental restorations, consult with your dentist for personalized advice.

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