When it comes to restorative and cosmetic dentistry, dental restorations are an essential part of improving the look and function of your smile. Out of all the various dental restorations, some of the most popular restorations are crowns and bridges. Crowns are tooth-shaped caps that can fit over the top of the tooth and restore decay and damage, while bridges are made up of multiple crowns cemented together in order to span across a gap left by one or more missing teeth.
The earliest dental crowns were used by the Estrucans (Ancient Italians) and were made from gold, ivory, and bone. Modern dental crowns can be made out of porcelain, resin, ceramic, and metals.
You may need a dental crown if you have a tooth whose natural structure has been mostly compromised by damage or decay. Dental crowns are also placed over teeth that have undergone root canal treatment.
You may need a dental bridge if you have one or more missing teeth. However in order for a dental bridge to be placed, the teeth on either side of the gap must be stable enough for the placement of a dental crown to support the bridge.
Even after significant damage to a tooth, your dentist will do their best to evaluate the situation. This is because it is best to preserve your natural teeth before resorting to an extraction. For this reason, dental crowns serve both cosmetic and restorative purposes. The protective cap of a dental crown may be used to address the following:
Dental bridges are able to correct one or more missing teeth. People may lose their teeth or need a tooth extraction for the following reasons:
If you are having a dental crown placed, you have the following options:
Ultimately, you will need to discuss these options with your dentist to determine what type of dental crown is best for your dental needs.
If you are having a dental bridge placed, you have the following options:
To prepare your teeth for the placement of a dental crown or bridge, your dentist will first anesthetize the area. If you are having a dental crown placed, any decayed tissue must be removed. Then, the tooth will be reduced in size so that it can accommodate a dental crown. If you are having a dental bridge placed, each tooth on either side of the gap will need to be prepared for dental crowns.
Once the tooth or teeth have been prepared, your dentist will take a dental impression or oral scan of your mouth and send it to a dental lab so the permanent restoration can be fabricated. In the meantime, you will have a temporary crown or bridge placed to protect your teeth and preserve a space for the restoration. Between the first and second appointments, you may experience minor tooth sensitivity while your mouth adjusts. In about 1-2 weeks, you will return to the office to have the permanent crown or bridge checked for fit and then permanently cemented in place.
You can expect a dental crown procedure to take two visits to the dentist’s office. This is so that your dental health care provider can ensure the treated tooth is ready and your future dental crown is personalized for your smile.
During your first visit, your dentist will examine the tooth that will be fitted for the dental crown. X-Rays may be taken of the tooth and the surrounding bone. If the tooth has decay, an infection, or injury to the tooth pulp (this is the interior that contains the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue), a root canal may be necessary.
Your tooth will then be prepared to fit a dental crown by being filed down across the top and sides. If too much of the tooth is missing, a filling material can be used to create an artificial structure for the crown. After the tooth is reshaped, your dentist will make an impression of the tooth using a paste or putty so that a lab can prepare the perfect dental crown just for you. The permanent dental crown may take two to three weeks to create.
Your dentist will fit a temporary dental crown over the tooth as we anticipate your permanent dental crown. To prevent dislodging the temporary dental crown, we recommend chewing on the other side of your mouth. You should also try to avoid foods that are hard, crunchy, sticky, or chewy.
During the second visit, you can be prepared to see your new smile. The temporary crown will be removed and the permanent crown will be placed on your tooth. If the fit and the color look good, your dentist will numb the tooth and surrounding area using a local anesthetic and cement the permanent dental crown into place.
To allow the cement to set, avoid chewing gum or eating sticky, hard, or crunchy foods for 24-48 hours (just as when you practiced with your temporary crown). Some patients may experience sensitivity in the gum around the new crown, but you can expect it to fade within a few weeks. Reach out to your dentist if you find that the discomfort does not improve. You can care for your new dental crown the same way you do your other natural teeth–with regular brushing and flossing, and a professional cleaning from your dentist every 6 months.
A dental bridge procedure is very similar to a dental crown procedure. Similarly, you can expect the process to take two visits. During the first visit, the two natural teeth surrounding the gap in your smile will be prepared to act as supporting or anchoring teeth for the false replacement tooth of the bridge. X-Rays may be taken to ensure a healthy foundation. The two anchoring teeth will then be filed down in preparation for their respective dental crowns.
Your dental healthcare provider will then make an impression or take a digital scan of your teeth so that the laboratory can create your personalized bridge, false teeth, and dental crowns. To protect your teeth and gums as we wait for your second visit, a temporary bridge will be fitted over the exposed areas of your mouth. Fabrication of your permanent dental bridge may take up to two to four weeks to create.
You can expect aftercare for the weeks in which you have a temporary dental bridge to be similar to guidance for dental crowns: avoid chewing on the treated side of your mouth, and keep from eating sticky, chewy, hard, or crunchy foods. This same advice is applicable to a 24-48 hour setting period after the placement of your permanent dental bridge.
During your second visit, your dentist will cement your permanent dental bridge in place after ensuring that the color and fit suit your smile. With a dental bridge, you can expect to eat and drink your favorite foods without any issues. A short adjustment period after the placement of your dental bridge is natural. During this period, you may experience increased temperature sensitivity and sensitivity to pressure from biting or eating. Drinking through a straw can be helpful during this time. If any discomfort persists past the two to three-week mark, reach out to your dentist. Dental bridges can be cared for the same way you would your other natural teeth–with regular brushing and visiting the dentist twice a year.
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