Crowns are synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain, placed on the top of a tooth. Crowns are typically used to restore a tooth’s function and appearance following a restorative procedure such as a root canal. When decay in a tooth has become so advanced that large portions of the tooth must be removed, crowns are often used to restore the tooth.
Crowns are also used to attach bridges, cover implants, prevent a cracked tooth from becoming worse, or an existing filling is in jeopardy of becoming loose or dislocated. Crowns also serve an aesthetic use and are applied when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance.
Soft, moldable material is used to make a precise “impression” of the tooth to be crowned and nearby teeth. A dental technician uses the impression to make the crown the exact height needed. A temporary crown made of plastic or metal is put over the tooth until the crown is made. When the porcelain crown is fitted, small adjustments are made to ensure you retain your natural bite. Depending on the strength of the tooth underneath, with good dental hygiene, a crown can last for many years.
Dental bridges are natural-looking dental appliances used to replace one or more missing teeth. A bridge is made out of three pieces that fit into the open space between teeth, “bridging” the gap. Most bridges are made of a pontic tooth (or false tooth), held together by two crowns (a “cap” that covers the tooth, approximating its normal size and shape). This combination is then attached (cemented) to the abutment teeth (the surrounding teeth on each side of the gap).
Bridges are sometimes referred to as fixed partial dentures because they are semi-permanent and are bonded to existing teeth or implants. Some bridges are removable and can be cleaned by the wearer; others need to be removed by a dentist.
Porcelain, gold alloys or combinations of materials are usually used to make bridge appliances.
Appliances called implant bridges are attached to an area below the gum tissue or the bone.