What is a dental bridge and when is it recommended?
The disadvantages of a dental bridge are:
- It involves the cutting of teeth on either side for crowns.
- Flossing is difficult as the teeth are joined together.
- They are almost as expensive as implants, which have a much higher success rate.
A bridge or implant or denture is recommended when one or more teeth are missing because gaps left by missing teeth eventually cause the remaining teeth to rotate or shift in the empty spaces, which can result in a bad bite. The imbalance caused by missing teeth can also lead to gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
Heavily worn and missing lower teeth (top) replaced with porcelain-metal bridge and lower denture connected via precision attachments to eliminate visible clasps (bottom).
What is a dental crown and when is it recommended:
A dental crown is used to entirely cover or “cap” a damaged tooth and is a fixed prosthetic device. Besides strengthening a damaged tooth, a dental crown can be used to improve its appearance, shape or alignment, as they are shaped and coloured to look like your natural teeth.
A dentist may recommend a dental crown in the following situations:
- Replacing a large filling (when there isn’t enough tooth remaining)
- Protecting a weak tooth from fracturing or restoring a fractured tooth
- Attaching a bridge (to the crown)
- Covering a dental implant
- Covering a discoloured or poorly shaped tooth
- Covering a tooth that has had root canal treatment.
There are now many types of dental crowns available, all with different features which make them more suitable for different situations. It is essentially the material they are made of which differentiates them, ranging from the traditional porcelain fused to metal (PFM) and full gold crowns, to the more recent monolithic zirconia crowns. The dentist can talk you through all the pros and cons for your particular situation.
How are dental crowns & bridges made?
The preparation and placement of a dental crown or bridge usually requires two visits.
During the first visit, the tooth or teeth are internally strengthened and shaped in readiness for the crown or bridge. An impression is then taken to provide an exact mould for the crown or bridge. The dentist will also determine the correct shade for the crown or bridge to match the colour of your existing teeth. The impression is then sent to a dental lab/technician who then makes the crown or bridge, usually requiring about two weeks. A temporary crown or bridge will be put in place to cover the prepared tooth while the permanent crown or bridge is being made.
At the second visit, the crown or bridge is permanently placed. The dentist will assess the fit and colour match before permanently cementing the dental crown or bridge.
How long do dental crowns and bridges last?
Dental Crowns and bridges can last a lifetime, but unfortunately no treatment has a 100% success rate. You may chew normally on your crown or bridge but “reasonable” care is advised. Chewing ice and large, hard nuts is not recommended. The most important thing to do to improve longevity of your crown or bridge is to practice good oral hygiene. A dental bridge can lose its support if the teeth or bone holding it in place are damaged by gum disease. Not only is it important to keep your gums and teeth healthy by brushing and flossing daily, you should also see your dentist and hygienist regularly for checkups and professional cleans.