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Dental crowns and bridges
Crowns and bridges are a fixed solution to missing or damaged teeth. This restorative procedure uses prosthetic devices to return your smile to its natural state. A crown is used when the tooth structure is damaged or fractured. A bridge is used when one or more teeth are missing.
What is a crown?
A crown is basically a manufactured tooth. It’s generally made of porcelain or ceramic that can be colour and texture-matched to your existing teeth. A crown can also be made of gold alloys for improved strength when replacing a back tooth. Often a metal crown will have porcelain bonded to the exterior to give it strength and a natural look.
How is a crown fitted?
Crowns are used when an existing tooth is damaged, fractured or weakened. The tooth is filed down and reshaped into a smaller size. Any decay is removed and the tooth structure is restored to support the crown. The crown fits like a cap over the newly shaped tooth and is cemented into position.
What is a bridge?
A bridge is a prosthetic appliance that replaces missing teeth. Bridges are usually made of porcelain fused to metal in order to achieve both strength and a natural look.
How is a bridge fitted?
A bridge consists of false teeth rigidly attached between two crowns. The teeth on either side of the gap are prepared for these crowns and the bridge is cemented into place. In some cases, it’s possible to use implants to replace the missing teeth rather than using the existing teeth. Once a bridge is cemented into position, it looks and works just like natural teeth.
When is a crown or bridge required?
Crowns and bridges are used to repair a number of different dental problems.
A crown can be used when:
- a tooth is fractured or damaged
- too much decay has weakened a tooth
- a tooth is severely discoloured
- a tooth is misshapen
- a dental bridge needs an anchor.
A bridge is used to replace a missing tooth or teeth. It is also a possible solution when dentures are unstable, uncomfortable or aesthetically displeasing.
To find out if you’re a suitable candidate for a crown or bridge, it’s essential that you are assessed by a dentist. Once you explain to your dentist the result you would like to achieve, they will be able to tell you exactly what is, and is not, possible in your situation.
Crown and bridge care
Once your crown or bridge is fitted, it’s important to maintain a regular and effective routine of oral hygiene. Brush and floss two to three times a day, taking extra care to floss around your crown. This will help avoid decay where the crown and the tooth join. Avoid sticky foods such as toffee and lollies, and do not use your teeth inappropriately – chewing pens, crunching ice, gnawing fingernails, etc.
A dental floss threader, which looks like a small bendy brush, can be used to clean under your bridge. There are also water jets on the market that will help keep your bridge clean.
Whether you have a crown or a bridge, the most important thing is to regularly visit your dentist for a checkup and clean. This way problems can be detected early, allowing them to be corrected before they become painful and expensive.
How long will a bridge or crown last?
How long your crown and bridge lasts depends on the effectiveness and regularity of your dental hygiene routine. As a general rule, they last between 7-15 years but longer periods are certainly possible with outstanding oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups.
*Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.