Crowns & Bridges
A crown (also known as a cap) is an artificial cover that fits over a specially prepared natural tooth to restore it to normal appearance and function. Crowns are custom made by dental technicians to fit onto the teeth prepared by your dentist. Crowns might be needed if a tooth has been so badly damaged by decay or fracture that it becomes impossible to restore with ordinary filling materials.
Crowns can also be made for cosmetic reasons. Crowns can replace large and unsightly fillings. They also provide a way of improving the appearance of crooked, discoloured or misshapen teeth.
Crowns can be made from different materials, depending on the individual’s situation:
- Porcelain. It looks very lifelike and is most often used for front teeth.
- Porcelain bonded to metal. It combines the appearance of porcelain with a metal substructure that is more resistant to fracture.
- Gold. Strong and hard wearing. Still one of the longer lasting materials but less used because of the unnatural colour.
- Plastic. It is used for temporary and semi-permanent crowns.
- Glass/Metal-free. These crowns are very lifelike and relatively strong. Porcelain is bonded onto zirconium or a glass-like substructure that allows light reflection that is very similar to natural tooth structure.
Post crowns. These are normal crowns that are connected to the natural roots of a tooth by means of a metal post. This is sometimes the only option when there is almost no natural tooth structure left. The metal post is inserted into the root of the tooth, which means the tooth will need a root canal treatment first.
Crowns are strong restorations but they are attached to a natural tooth structure that can still decay or fracture. People who clench or grind their teeth might also find that the porcelain could chip or fracture sooner.
A bridge comprises false teeth (pontics) which fill the gap and are fixed to existing teeth (anchors). The anchor teeth are drilled and shaped as for crowns. A bridge is essentially a row of attached crowns. Some of them will be attached to teeth (anchors) and some will fill the gaps (pontics). It will look and work like natural teeth.
Missing teeth should be replaced for appearance, to help you eat, to prevent the remaining teeth moving into unhealthy positions or a combination of all these factors. Other options for replacing teeth could be partial dentures or implants.