Dental crowns and dental bridges are devices in use to restore lost or damaged teeth.
Dental crowns are caps which can be fitted on to existing damaged and restored teeth to protect and keep the shape of the tooth. Crowns are also used to keep the fillings in the cavities in place and make the teeth look natural. Crowns are usually long lasting and with good oral hygiene habits can remain intact for many years.
Dental bridges are devices, which are used to fill the gaps, created by lost teeth, between two sets of teeth. Both the strategies are useful in dental restoration treatment and are very widely used all over the world.
When you visit your dentist with a dental issue, he will discuss the line of treatment with and decide on one or a combination of treatments to address your particular dental issue. It will help to know about the details of both these lines of treatments to be able to decide the best course for yourself.
Dental crowns are used for many dental issues. But first, let’s learn a little bit about the structure of our teeth. Teeth are made of 3 layers of which the outer layer called the enamel is the toughest. It is hard and protects the inner layers, which is pulp, that contains vessels carrying blood for the teeth. Over the years, the teeth get worn because of use, or get damaged due to accidents and injury in addition to the decay that occurs because of bacteria and lack of proper dental hygiene. In such cases teeth will have to cleaned of decay and bacteria, and the space created by the decay and lost tissue of the teeth has to be filled in with materials called dental fillings. These dental fillings need to be kept in place so that it does not move away with the pressure of chewing. Also, the fillings although of the same colour, has to be hidden from view. The crown fits on top of the whole tooth and covers the restored tooth with artificial cap which matches the shape of other teeth almost exactly.
Sometimes due to accidents, the tooth may break into one or more pieces. The dentist can fix these pieces together, but to secure them, a cap is needed. The crown can keep them together and give it the shape of the original tooth hiding the joints of cemented tooth and giving it the desired shape.
Crowns are an effective treatment for discoloured teeth, which have been yellowed or browned because of smoking or medicines. In such cases, the discoloured tooth is covered with a crown that matches the colour of other teeth and blends with them.
Dental implants treatment also uses crowns to cover the implant. When one or more teeth are lost due to whatever reason, dental implants are used for restoration. After the implant is successfully entrenched in the bone tissue of the gums, the implant or the screw will have to be capped with one or more crowns which will look and be used as natural teeth.
Crowns are also a popular treatment for smile makeover where the patients want their smile to be better than what they have. In such cases, crowns are used to correct and hide crooked or misshapen teeth, misaligned teeth and other discrepancies in spacing of the teeth.
Dental crowns are available in a variety of materials which include metal, porcelain, and resin, and these can be used with combinations like porcelain fused with metal, or porcelain fused with resin.
Gold, palladium, nickel and chromium are very commonly used metals. These are long lasting and take wear and tear well. They require very little chipping of the original tooth for it to be capped onto the tooth and takes the pressure chewing very well. The main drawback of metal crowns is the colour of it, because they stand out. Porcelain crowns can be matched in colour to the neighbouring teeth and look natural. They are not as sturdy as metal but can be used in front teeth where the pressure of chewing is lesser than molars and where the look matters more. Resin crowns are made from inexpensive material and are easy on the budget. They are not as long lasting as metal.
Preparation for the crown installation
The dentist will have a few meetings to discuss the whole procedure and the budget with you before actual crowning. If the tooth is decayed, then he will clean and do the root canal if needed, apply filling and prepare the tooth for crown. The tooth will have to be scrapped and filed down on all sides a little for the crown to fit in the available space, depending on the material the crown is made up of.
You may feel sensitivity and discomfort for a few days. Crowns should be treated as you would your natural teeth. Proper dental hygiene is required for the crowns to last for a long time.
A dental bridge is an appliance that is used to fill the gap between teeth created by lost tooth or teeth. These bridges are not removable and are permanent. Bridges are used not only for restoring missing teeth, they are also useful for better smile and aesthetic purposes.
Like dental crowns, dental bridges can be made from many types of materials like metal, alloys and porcelain.
The bridge consists of artificial individual teeth one for each missing tooth. These individual teeth are made to look like the missing tooth they replace. Therefore, if the missing tooth is a molar, then the shape and size will match that. If it is an incisor then a similarly shaped tooth will be created.
The bridges are usually fixed, but when used in dentures, they can be removed. When bridges are made for frontal missing teeth, the material chosen is porcelain for its natural look.
Bridges give a natural good look to your smile and is frequently used in smile makeover treatments. Bridges also help in speaking naturally and helps in increased self-confidence. The bone loss is prevented with bridges and gives a better shape to your face. With increased use of dental implants, the use of bridges to set the crowns on top of the implants are increasing.